Forestry Fairy Tales – the myth of many jobs

Once upon a time, people thought that the logging industry was the big economic winner for a place called East Gippsland. Without it, the people were told, families would be starving in the gutters.

The reality nowadays – at most, only 2.9% of the regions employment relies on logging.1 Those employed in the logging industry in the mid 90s included 88 NRE staff, 361 in mills and 106 in falling and carting (these were industry figures – which are usually inflated). These figures include part time and casual workers. There were 19,049 people employed in the EG statistical division in 1995.

From another source, we are told the manufacturing sector accounted for 9% of the regions total economic turnover. Logging accounted for 27% of that 9%. That fits neatly with 2.9% from the CRA documents.2

Orbost employed 140 in forestry, fishing farming, hunting and manufacturing in 1995 out of a workforce of 708 all up. Much of that would be in farming. So even Orbost, “Victoria’s Premier Timber Town”, would only rely on logging for 10% of its employment at best.

In fact retail trade accounts for 12% of employment – so in reality Orbost should claim to be “Victorias Premier Shopkeepers Town”. Why don’t we see generations of proud shop-keepers demanding government assistance? Even health and community services account for more jobs than logging.

1 Resource and Economics report for East Gippsland – CRA July 1996. Pages vi, vii, 43 & 44.

2 Statistical Profile East Gippsland Shire. August 2001. Gippsland Research and Information Service Monash University.

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