Brookings-Harbor Area’s Economic Focus Shared by Leisure and Hospitality, and Health Care and Social Assistance

By: Annette Shelton-Tiderman Regional Economist:
Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties
Oregon Employment Department | 541-252-2047

Curry County is home to nearly 23,000 people, and the incorporated town of Brookings accounts for nearly 30 percent of the county’s population. However, Brookings’ economic activities are interwoven with those of the adjacent, unincorporated community of Harbor. Population figures alone do not adequately represent the dynamics of this area. On an employment basis, Curry County reports roughly 6,365 jobs, 69 percent of which are located in the Brookings-Harbor area. For this summary, the Brookings-Harbor area is defined as census tracts 9503 (including 0.01 and 0.02) and 9504; cited county data will exclude these tracts.

Brookings-Harbor Area Census Tract

Source; US Census Bureau

Often called “the sunbelt of Oregon,” this southwestern corner of the state has a well-deserved reputation for attracting tourists and retirees. It is no surprise that Brookings-Harbor’s employment in the leisure and hospitality sector leads that of health care and social assistance by only a few jobs. Together, these sectors account for nearly four out of 10 area jobs. Countywide, these two industries ranked second and third; together they provided 30 percent of this rural county’s employment.

Trade, transportation, and utilities ranked third in the Brookings-Harbor area employment and first across the rest of Curry County. Typically, this sector encompasses a wide variety of businesses and occupations. In Curry County, 85 percent of the employment in that industry is in retail trade, which supports many tourism-related endeavors.

Although both the Brookings-Harbor area and the county see just over half of all employment generated by the top three sectors, the presence of other sectors differs. For example, the manufacturing footprint is twice as big in Brookings-Harbor as in the rest of the county. In contrast, public administration, those services provided by government entities, has a greater presence outside Brooking-Harbor, where only 2 percent of employment falls under government ownership. Employment in natural resources and mining is primarily outside the Brookings-Harbor area.

The employment footprint of educational services, construction, financial activities, other services, and information are more or less comparable between the Brookings-Harbor area and the rest of the county.

Looking at local employment patterns may help employers and community planners understand their strengths and areas of potential opportunity. The county and area reliance on leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and retirement-related services (often health-care based) provides many entry-level employment opportunities as well as some career possibilities. As the state’s and nation’s economies ebb and flow, affecting the level of people’s discretionary income, both Brookings-Harbor and the county’s ability to draw visitors and new residents creates more questions than answers.

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