Oregon's Economy: Employment
Oregon’s labor force is more than two million strong. Three out of five of the state’s working age population is involved in the labor force. Some are currently looking for a job, many are working for themselves and 1.9 million are employees working at the 143,000 business establishments and government entities across the state. Employment in trade, transportation and utilities accounts for nearly one out of five Oregon jobs, making it the state’s largest industry sector. Federal, state and local government jobs are the next largest group, followed by private education and health services, and professional and business services.
Nearly every industry in Oregon was hit hard by the Great Recession. Overall job growth resumed in March 2010, and all the major sectors turned the corner and were adding jobs by early 2014. Total payroll employment reached 1,831,900 in May 2016, nearly 100,000 more jobs than there were when the recession began in December 2007.
Professional and business services added 55,100 jobs during the recovery so far, the most of any sector. Mining and logging, a relatively small sector in terms of number of jobs, added 1,300 jobs. The trade, transportation and utilities sector has added 39,900 jobs since the recovery began. Private educational services, driven by increasing enrollments, and health care and social assistance, driven by an aging population, never suffered net job losses during the recession. They have added a combined 40,900 jobs during the recovery. Leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants, hotels and recreational activities, added 36,900 jobs. Other services, which include businesses such as repair and maintenance shops, personal and laundry services and religious and membership organizations, added 6,800 jobs.
The manufacturing sector lost the highest number of jobs during the recession, but has been adding jobs back at a steady pace. So far, 22,900 jobs have been added during the recovery, with 13,700 of those jobs at durable goods manufacturers. In particular, businesses that produce wood products, machinery, and computer and electronic products have been hiring the most workers. The other 8,800 jobs were added by manufacturers of nondurable goods, such as food and beverages.
The construction sector lost a larger share of its jobs than any other sector in Oregon. It was a few years into the recovery before construction firms started hiring, but they were hiring again in 2013. Construction has gained back 21,400 jobs during the recovery.Oregon’s information sector is in flux, with hiring in software publishers being pared by cuts by newspaper, book and directory publishers. Many of the post-recession job gains in this sector have been in Oregon’s growing motion picture and video production industry. Overall, the information sector has added 2,500 jobs since early 2010.
The financial activities sector, which is closely tied to the real estate market, experienced a boom and bust in employment similar to the construction industry, and employment levels continued to fall as the rest of the private sector recovered. Financial activities recently improved and started adding jobs again and now has 2,100 jobs more than in early 2010.
Governments cut jobs over the course of the recovery, driven by reductions in funding local education and spending at the federal level. Local educational employment has stabilized, but federal cuts are expected to continue. Growth in state government jobs is attributed to homecare workers who care for older people and people with disabilities in the person’s own home. Government employment is now 9,900 more than it was in early 2010.
Oregon’s Top Ten industries by Employment in 2015
1. Food services and drinking places (144,200)
2. Administrative and support services (93,000)
3. Ambulatory health care services (82,600)
4. Hospitals (55,700)
5. Specialty trade contractors (52,300)
6. Nursing and residential care facilities (48,400)
7. General merchandise stores (42,500)
8. Food and beverage stores (42,500)
9. Computer and electronic product manufacturing (37,800)
10. Social assistance (36,100)