Harney County is currently the site of an anti-government occupation led by Ammon Bundy and associates in response to the pending imprisonment of two individuals convicted of setting fires on federal property. Before making its way into the national spotlight, however, Harney was just another American precinct struggling economically, with jobs disappearing and incomes declining.
A 2014 report posted by the State of Oregon Employment Department noted that “year-to-date statistics for 2013 suggest that the size of Harney County’s labor force is now at its lowest point since the 1960s,” and that jobs in all sectors had declined in recent years. Nonetheless, the report also found that “the county’s largest job category nowadays is government,” a fact that Harney County residents are apparently cognizant of.
Speaking to Oregon Public Broadcasting reporters John Sepulvedo and Amanda Peacher, Harney County rancher Gary Marshall observed that “50 percent of people employed in Harney County work for the government,” adding that the proportion of people relying on the government for work rather militates against the anti-government sentiment peddled by Bundy and company:
“A lot of the people who work at the [Bureau of Land Management] are of families of the community,” said Marshall. “It’s not in any way a ‘them against us’ kind of a scenario here.”