Counting employment in Oregon’s Christmas tree industry is difficult since the production and selling are included in several broad industries with other commodities. It is likely that Christmas tree growing creates the most jobs in this industry, especially during the harvest, which occurs just before the holidays. Since Christmas tree growers are required to have a license from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, we can get a rough idea of the magnitude of the industry. There are 355 licensed Christmas tree growers in Oregon cultivating roughly 45,000 acres.
We can look at an annual trend of payroll employment by matching company names from ODA licenses with records from the Oregon Employment Department’s Unemployment Insurance program. A search produced 42 matches.
In 2019, payroll employment at these companies held steady in the spring and summer and then spiked with the harvest in November, reaching roughly 800 workers. Annual average employment was 401 and annual average pay was $34,147.
Obviously, many growers are sole proprietors or family farms that have little or no payroll employment and are not required to report to the UI program. Many of the growers tend the trees and then hire temporary workers for the harvest or contract out the harvest. With more than 300 growers not included in the payroll employment companies above, it is likely that hundreds, if not thousands more are employed growing Christmas trees over the year.
So, while you are decorating your tree, baking cookies or enjoying a hot cocoa this holiday season, remember the thousands of workers that hustle to get that Oregon Christmas tree to you as fresh and green as possible.
To learn more, read Regional Economist Brian Rooney’s full article here.