This project, led by University of Oregon, examined the local economic impacts of large wildland fires in the western U.S.
- Generally, local employment and wages in a county increase during large wildfires; labor market disruptions from large wildfires are outweighed by the employment that the suppression effort creates in the short term.
- Large wildfires lead to instability in local labor markets by amplifying seasonal variation in employment over the subsequent year.
- Local capture of suppression spending is important because it helps mediate labor market impacts. For every $1 million spent in the county, local employment increased 1 percent during the quarter of the fire.
- On average, the Forest Service spent 9 percent of wildfire suppression funding in the county where the fires occurred. Amounts of local spending varied from zero to 39 percent.
- Contracts for suppression and support services are a central avenue for local capture. However, local business capacity appears to limit the ability of rural and resource-dependent counties to capture suppression contracts.
- Counties with more federal vendors prior to a fire tend to capture more contract spending locally during a fire.
- Capture of fire suppression contracts is concentrated in a few areas in the west.