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Over the last 40 years, Humboldt County has experienced a dramatic restructuring and diversification of its economy. Historically, the local economy was built on natural resources that supported timber production and manufacturing, dairy farming, cattle ranching, and fishing. These industries served as the county's export base, importing capital that helped grow the rest of the economy.
The contraction of these sectors has leveled off in recent years. The fishing industry has shrunk by two-thirds and the forest products industry provides approximately 12% of the direct payroll in the county today, about equal to the education and research and health care industries.
Though the traditional natural resource industries have declined, they still play a vital role in Humboldt County's economy.
A diversified local economy is desirable because it is more stable. A stable local economy sees slower, steadier economic growth and less volatility.