Riding the Seasonal Employment Wave

Overview of Plumas County employment in comparison to California overall, December 2014 - December 2015

Overview of Plumas County employment in comparison to California overall, December 2014 - December 2015

Today I'm going to use the California Center for Jobs and Economy website to talk about how employment in Plumas County has been affected by the Global Financial Crisis and the degree to which we have lagged behind the rest of California in lowering our overall unemployment rate. This website, which is hosted by the California Business Roundtable, has the best graphical presentation of data that I've seen recently. In my next blog post, I'll use this information to speculate about what kinds of occupations and businesses will our future residents be most successful with in Plumas County.

California Business Roundtable: Plumas County Economic Profile

Looking at our unemployment rate, there is a distinctive wave pattern:


And that is echoed in the chart that shows our overall population and workforce over the past five years:


This wave pattern, which reflects seasonal employment, is quite common in other Sierra Nevada counties, but for some reason Plumas County as stubbornly resisted regaining jobs and remains the seventh highest rate of unemployment in California.  So what kinds of jobs do our approximately 7000 workers do in Plumas County?

Our biggest employer is the government - at the federal, state, and county level - with 2442 people employed in this sector making an average of $42,000, which is the higher end of the average wage scale in Plumas County.  A number of these jobs are seasonal, especially in for the U.S. Forest Service.  In the private sector, the biggest employers are:

Accommodation and Food Service, 732 people with average wages of just $14,000 per year.  This is also a seasonal area of employment.

Retail Trade, 556 people with average wages around $24,000 per year

Healthcare and Social Assistance, 471 people with average wages of $21,000 per year

Manufacturing, 455 people with average wages around $56,000 per year

Construction, 327 people with averages wages of $42,000 per year

Our best paid workers are in the utility sector, with average wages of $101,000 per year, and manufacturing (mainly our two lumber mills in Quincy and Chester) with average wages of $56,000 per year.

We have nearly 2900 people in Plumas County who identify themselves as business owners or sole proprietors, with annual incomes averaging $23,000.  There are 534 business registrations in Plumas County as of December 2013, with only 15 new business registrations during the year prior to that.

And buried in the statistics about commuting, I found that 7.2 percent of workers in Plumas County worked from home in 2014, which gives us a hint about the number of people who either run a business from home or work remotely for employers in other areas of California or the United States -- somewhere around 500 of us are in this category, including me.  I've been working remotely in Plumas County since 2004.  This is a bit lower than the proportion of home-based workers in other Sierra Nevada counties.  In Nevada County, 11.5 percent of workers work from home.  That percentage is 10.0 percent in Mariposa, 6.7 percent in Tuolumne, and 7.3 percent in Mendocino County.