December 12, 2001 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

The figures just released by the Oregon Employment Department are almost a year old, but they reveal that government workers, those in the forest products industry, the air transportation industry and security/commodity brokers were among the top individual wage earners in Union County for 2000.

The average pay in Union County for 2000 was $24,149, according to the survey.

Three utility companies paid their 38 employees an average of $50,887 for the year 2000, the highest in the county, the report stated.

Security/commodity brokers, which included 13 employees at four firms, averaged $47,697.

The 242 federal employees averaged $39,170 and a total of $9.5 million.

State government employees, of which there were 753, earned an average wage of $35,937 for a total of $27.1 million.

Those in lumber and wood products averaged $35,868. This group of 885 people produced the highest total payroll more than $31.7 million.

The largest employee group, 1,337 in local government, earned an annual average of $23,393 and produced the second-largest total, almost $31.3 million.

There were only 24 people involved in air transportation, but they averaged $39,839 in annual salary.

In 2000, there were 779 people working in eating and drinking places. They earned and average of $8,821. The total for that category of worker was eighth in Union County at $6.9 million.

Among the 48 industries in the county, the lowest paid individuals are involved in motion pictures, with 16 employees averaging $6,093.

The survey counted 9,686 jobs that paid a total of $233,908,401.

The trend was similar in Wallowa County, where the largest group of workers 504 were with local government, which earned a total of $12.1 million. The average worker in that category earned $23,983. Federal government workers averaged $35,000 or a total of $5.1 million. There are 144 federal employees in Wallowa County.

The 14 utility workers in Wallowa County earn an average of $50,439, the highest individual wage-earners except for the six people involved in wholesale durable goods. They averaged $68,848.

State employees in Wallowa County averaged $30,176.

The 143 involved in eating and drinking places earned $7,489, the lowest paid group in the county.

Woods products and lumber industry workers earned a total of $4.5 million, averaging $28,372.

A total of 2,272 jobs produced payrolls totaling $51,225,113 in Wallowa County in 2000.

Oregon Business magazine reports that 50 of the states public company CEOs earn more than $222,320 a year. That list includes 16 who earn more than $1 million each. Cyrus Y. Tsui of Lattide Semiconductor is the leader with total cash compensation of $3,933,344. Phil Knight of Nike, who was first last year, fell to third on the latest list, earning $2,549,427.

The same magazine reports the average University of Oregon or Oregon State University full professor averages $76,000, compared to $86,000 at the University of Washington, $101,000 at the University of North Carolina and $113,000 at UC Berkley or UCLA.

For October, the Oregon Employment Department said 442,700 people were working in the service sector. That was the largest group.

For November, the department distributed $65,805,260 in unemployment benefits.