USDA Forest Service Economic Impact Analysis

Frequently Asked Questions About the At A Glance Reports

Benefits to People Reports

1. What is the difference between the Jobs and Income At A Glance (AAG) reports and the Benefits to People AAG reports?

The Benefits to People AAG reports explain some of the benefits provided by our forests, such as recreation opportunities, cultural resources, forest products, grazing, water, and minerals. The Jobs & Income AAG reports detail the contributions these resources make to local economies.

2. What year is the report for?

The reports were published in 2018 but use the most recent available data from various sources, which range from 2015 to 2017.

3. Where did the data come from and for what year?

Data type Data Source Year
Forest Land Use Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) 2015
Rangeland cover LANDFIRE Program 2015
Counties overlapping forest boundary Land Areas of the National Forest System (LAR) 2015
Counties classified as metro and non-metro USDA Economic Research Service, County Typology Codes 2015
Recreation data National Visitor Use Monitoring Program 2014
Number of livestock grazed on NFS lands USDA Forest Service, Natural Resource Manager (NRM) 2015
Minerals by sales value USDA Forest Service, Natural Resource Manager (NRM) 2015
Wood product volume Forest Products Cut and Sold from the National Forests and Grasslands - cut and sold reports from USDA Forest Service's Automated Timber Sale Accounting system 2015
Population served from source-water protection areas U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Basic Information about Source Water Protection - population served from Source-water Protection Areas 2017
Regional use by industry sector group U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Water Use in the United States 2015
Mileage of NFS roads USDA Forest Service, Enterprise Data Warehouse 2017
Mileage of NFS trails USDA Forest Service, Natural Resource Manager (NRM) - Forest Service Trail Performance Measure Accomplishment Status 2016
NFS lands in wilderness Land Areas of the National Forest System (LAR) 2016
Audience total for conservation education programs USDA Forest Service, NatureWatch, Interpretation and Conservation Education (NICE) 2016
Number of partners under open agreements USDA Forest Service, Natural Resource Manager (NRM) 2016

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Jobs and Income Reports

1. Who is the audience for these reports?

The information in these reports can be accessed by anyone, and used to gain an appreciation for current employment and income supported by National Forest and Grassland management. However, the models and analysis protocols underlying the estimation of the contribution effects are difficult to use correctly or consistently and interpretation of the results is nuanced and tricky. With the assistance of economists, a variety of users (such as interested individuals, decision makers, public affairs officers, planning teams, etc.) may find the website useful.

2. What is the site is useful for?

The website serves as an easy reference for many levels of the Agency and the public. As calls for information come in, resource specialists, planners, Forest Supervisors, Regional Office staff and Washington Office staff have this information readily at hand, with assistance from economists and social scientists on interpretation. Since the website will be updated every year, the information may be useful for assessments, identifying trends and for monitoring. Please consult with your regional contact for questions on application of information on the website and assumptions regarding underlying data and analysis protocols.

3. How does this information differ from EPS-HDT (the Human Dimensions Toolkit)?

Information displayed on the website differs significantly from the information contained in Economic Profile System - Human Dimensions Toolkit (EPS-HDT), but the two systems are complimentary. EPS-HDT gives trends and conditions, generally, for a particular county or set of counties. The Contribution website displays, concretely, the economic ties between Forest Service management and local communities. For example, EPS-HDT can display how many people are employed in the entire forestry and logging sector in an area, but the website is more specific in linking harvest from each National Forest with logging companies in the area. As another example, EPS can tell us how many people in the area are employed in the hotel and lodging sector. In contrast, the estimates on the website show:

  • the direct effects of lodging purchases by National Forest recreationists, plus
  • the ripple effects that direct purchases of lodging has in the economy; including supplies purchased by the hotels, motels, campgrounds, wages paid to lodging employees, etc.

In short, EPS-HDT gives a picture of the economic and demographic environment for the Forest while the Contribution website answers the question, “So What?” Specifically, the “So” question describes the actual Forest Service management and the “What,” describes the economic consequences for the local economy.

4. Why can’t we add up forests?

If we were to run, for example, a state model using the exact same resource data as we put in individual forest models, the results would not be the same as adding up the individual forest results. In the same way, if we run the data for two forests together in the same analysis area model for some objective, the results would not be the same as adding up the individual forest results. So, why does the sum of the pieces not equal the whole?

This can occur because Output or income per Worker and other factors may be larger in a region of economic concentration than in a state as a whole. While, typically, state impacts are larger for Direct and Induced there are circumstances where state ratios of income per worker or other factors may be significantly lower than a county's.

The state represents a weighted average of all the individual county relationships, so if your county has a lower Output per Worker, Labor Income per Worker or lower Regional Purchase Coefficients (RPCs) then it will likely be less than the state average. If you have a region that is higher in one or more of these then it will be larger.

Generally, larger Study Areas have less leakage due to imports and larger RPCs. For example, as we move into larger geographies the amount of local supply to meet local demand increases, and thus purchases that were imports to smaller regions are now local in larger geographies. But this is not always the case. An RPC can actually be smaller if the additional geography increases demand at a higher rate than it adds to supply.

As noted above, it is possible for an industry to be more concentrated in terms of output per worker, and compensation per worker in a region than in the state as a whole. This region would be described as being more specialized in that industry than the state as a whole. When the analysis area is expanded to include the less specialized area (perhaps the remaining state is more rural that the county where the economic change is occurring) output per worker, and compensation per worker decreases.

5. Why are results only available for FY 2016?

The Contribution Website is dependent on two data types, which have a time lag before they are available:

  1. IMPLAN, a commercial software and data package that gives a baseline picture of the underlying economy and interactions in an economy, and
  2. Central corporate databases providing National Forest expenditure and use information for timber, grazing, minerals, and recreation (such as National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM)).

6. Why aren’t ecosystem services and non-market values included?

These reports look only at the narrow measures of jobs and income. Measures of Ecosystem Services are available in the Benefits to People Reports.

7. What is an “economic area of influence”? How is it defined?

The economic area of influence for each National Forest and Grassland was painstakingly defined using a detailed protocol. This yields an analysis area that more clearly delineates where the greatest interactions are between Forest Service resource management and the local economy.

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USDA Forest Service
Ecosystem Management Coordination (EMC)
1400 Independence Ave.
Mailstop: 1104
Washington, DC 20250-1104

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Last modified: Thursday, 20-Sep-2018 10:39:11 CDT