Success means the arrival of timber jobs


As we pointed out last month, Weyerhaeuser is doing very well. Earnings for the first quarter of 2013 were up 30 percent from last year, and the company’s profit of $144 million was more than three times higher than its profit in the first quarter of 2013.

Now we’re starting to see that success translate in local communities.

The Longview Daily News reports that Weyerhaeuser is in the midst of a hiring surge in Cowlitz County in Southwest Washington.

The company has hired 54 new employees at its Longview sawmill since last year and 16 at the log yard this year. By the end of this year it will hire 20 entry-level workers and four salaried managers at its pulp mill, at least 10 more workers in the log-export yard and an undisclosed additional number at the sawmill and Norpac newsprint mill, company spokesman Anthony Chavez said.

By the end of 2013, Weyerhaeuser will have about 1,500 workers in Cowlitz County.

“The recovery is well underway, which is good news,” Chavez said.

The jobs are desperately needed in Cowlitz County, whose 9.7 percent unemployment rate is one of the highest in the state.

Ted Sprague, president of the Cowlitz Economic Development Council, said the new Weyerhaeuser family-wage jobs will be an additional boost for other sectors of the economy when the workers go shopping at local stores and eat out at area restaurants.

“It reiterates the word I’ve been trying to get out, that we’re recovering from this deep, deep recession,” said Sprague, who attended the meeting.

As Sprague points out, these are family-wage jobs that pay well for their industry. An accompanying Longview Daily News storyshows that timber jobs in Cowlitz County are the highest-paid timber jobs in the country, even while county incomes across all fields are lower than the rest of the country.

The (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) reported that Cowlitz County workers in four different fields in the timber industry are the highest paid in the nation. Tree fallers in Cowlitz County make an average of $30.07 an hour, about 50 percent higher than the national average.

Cowlitz County loggers make an average hourly wage of $23.76, saw machine operators are paid an average of $19.57 an hour and other wood machine operators made $20.42.

These are the jobs and communities at stake as our political leaders struggle with how to manage our forests. When state and federal forests continue to be mismanaged and sawmills around the Northwest shut down, families quickly lose their livelihoods.