Jackson County Travel Impacts 2021
By Guy Tauer, Oregon Regional Economist, Coos, Curry, Jackson, and Josephine counties
New data from a Dean Runyan Associates study for the Oregon Tourism Commission shows that total direct travel spending in Oregon fell by 48.5% in 2020 compared with 2019 totals. Preliminary data for 2021 show that the travel economy recovered much of the prior year’s losses to reach $10.9 billion. This was still $1.9 billion below 2019 levels. Travel spending and earnings showed stronger recoveries than travel-related employment, which by 2021 recovered less than one out of three jobs that were lost in 2020.
Travel spending rose from $363 million in 2020 to $625.3 million in 2021 in Jackson County, accounting for almost 6% of all Oregon travel spending. Food service ($154.8 million) and accommodations ($129 million) combined to account for just less than one-half of travel spending in Jackson County last year. Retail sales ($64 million); local transportation and gas ($57.2 million); food store spending ($48.9 million); and arts, entertainment, and recreation ($45.5 million) made up the majority of the rest of Jackson County travel spending in 2021. Direct travel spending was only down $1.3 million from the 2019 pre-pandemic total, essentially recovering most of the steep decline in 2020.
Employment attributed to travel spending reached 4,930 jobs in 2021, up 11.6% from the prior year in Jackson County. However, after losing an estimated 1,040 jobs during the pandemic in 2020, the county regained only about one out of five of the travel related employment jobs lost at the onset of the pandemic. Industry employment generated by travel spending had a similar distribution as overall travel spending by industry. About 70% of all travel-generated employment was in the accommodation and food services industry. Approximately one out of 10 travel-generated jobs were in the arts, entertainment, and recreation, and the retail trade sectors.
The 2020 to 2021 increase in travel spending of 71.8% was much faster growth than the average annual increase between 2003 and 2021, which was 3.2%. Earnings growth from travel spending rose 11.6% in 2021, also faster than the average growth rate of 3.6% since 2003.. Tax revenue, mostly from lodging taxes and income tax payments attributable to travel industry income of businesses and employees, totaled $27.6 million in 2021. Local tax revenues increased by 54.7% in 2021, while state tax revenue attributable to travel spending rose from about $12.5 million in 2020 to about $16.0 million in 2021, a 28.5% increase. There were more than 5.5 million overnight visitor stays in Jackson County in 2021, according to preliminary estimates, nearly recovered to the 2019 total.
While some don’t consider travel and tourism as an “export-oriented” industry, the Dean Runyan Associates report does a nice job of detailing why this sector does fit the criteria of an export-oriented industry, due to the influx of resources that flow into an economy from outside of the region. The travel impact report states the gross domestic product of the travel industry was $5.4 billion in 2021. Overall, the travel industry is one of the three largest export-oriented industries in rural Oregon counties with the other two being agriculture/food processing and logging/wood products.
For the complete report, where statewide and individual county data are available, go to: https://industry.traveloregon.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/OR_2021_Final.pdf.
Interactive tables and other Oregon data from the Oregon Tourism Commission: https://industry.traveloregon.com/research/category/all-research/.