Friday, January 20, 2017

Training and Working Conditions for Oregon’s Tribal Casino Workers

Currently, Oregon is home to nine tribal casinos located across the state. These casinos, operated by individual Native American tribal councils, provide a variety of employment opportunities in the gaming industry.

Training, Qualifications, and Advancement

For most gaming occupations, skills are learned mainly through on-the-job training. The gaming occupations that may require more than on-the-job training are gaming managers and gaming dealers. Most gaming managers are required to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in management or a related field.

Gaming dealers are a special group. Some may learn the necessary skills on the job, but most often they need to attend classes to learn the skills required to deal or run different games. Another difference with gaming dealers is that they usually must audition in order to get hired. Auditions show how well applicants know the game and how quickly and efficiently they are able to compute and pay winning bets, but also how personable they are and how well they interact with customers.

One qualification that is important in all gaming occupations is excellent customer service skills. Casinos want friendly, personable employees who interact well with customers and make the gambling experience pleasurable whether customers are winning or losing. Another important skill for casino workers is the ability to deal with difficult and unhappy customers pleasantly, as the cards, dice, balls, or slots can’t go everyone’s way. 

Working Conditions

Working conditions for casino workers can be difficult. Casinos operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year, so workers may have to work swing or graveyard shifts, weekends, and holidays. Most positions require standing for long periods of time and some entail quite a bit of walking. Some, especially supervisors and managers, must deal with the occasional security problems presented by patrons. The amount of money being exchanged and handled in a casino also presents security risks. 


The wage numbers presented are drawn from information on all employment for these gaming occupations statewide and are not restricted solely to employment in tribal casinos. Most of the jobs in these occupations are at tribal casinos though.

Learn about major gaming occupations and their employment in "Gaming Occupations at Oregon’s Tribal Casinos", written by Workforce Analyst Tony Wendel. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Dropped to 4.6 Percent in December

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent in December, from 5.0 percent in November. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in December, down from 5.3 percent in December 2015. Oregon’s unemployment rate and its decline over the year are comparable with the U.S.

In December, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 5,000, which was more than the average monthly gain of 4,400 experienced over the prior 12 months. This followed a strong November gain of 5,200 jobs, as revised. December gains were strongest in professional and business services (+1,200 jobs) and government (+1,100). Three other industries added close to 700 jobs: financial activities (+700); health care and social assistance (+700); and construction (+600). Only one major industry had a substantial monthly job loss, as transportation, warehousing and utilities cut 500 jobs.

Over-the-year growth in Oregon continued at a robust pace as payroll employment grew by 2.9 percent since December 2015, nearly double the U.S. growth rate of 1.5 percent. In Oregon, industries growing the fastest during 2016 were construction (+7,000 jobs, or 8.1%); other services (+3,000 jobs, or 4.8%); professional and business services (+10,600 jobs, or 4.5%); and health care and social assistance (+10,200 jobs, or 4.5%). No industry declined over the past 12 months, but manufacturing (+1,200 jobs, or 0.6%) and retail trade (+1,200 jobs, or 0.6%) each expanded by less than 1 percent.

Read the Oregon Employment Department's full press release.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Nearly One in Four Workers in Oregon is 55 or Older

Oregon’s workforce is aging. The number of Oregon jobs held by workers age 55 and over tripled from 1992 to 2015, while the total number of jobs grew by just 42 percent. Workers 55 and over held just 10 percent of the jobs in 1992, increasing their share to 23 percent of all jobs by 2015. Driving this trend is the fact that much of the Baby Boom Generation is now 55 and over, and they are more likely to be in the labor force than previous generations were at this age. Many of these workers are probably planning to retire in the next 10 years, taking their skills and experience with them.

Although the aging workforce is a general demographic trend, it impacts employers, industries, or regions to varying degrees. Employers should know the age profile of their own workforce so they can plan accordingly for increased turnover from retirees. At a broader level, workforce planners need to know the demographic profiles of entire industries and regions to help gauge the need for future replacement workers.

Rural Counties Have Older Workforces

Rural county workforces tend to have a higher share of older workers and will feel the impact of the aging workforce more than metro counties. In counties outside metropolitan areas, more than one out of four (27%) workers are 55 years or older. That represents more than 61,000 workers in rural Oregon who are probably hoping to retire within the next decade.

Although older workers are a smaller share of the workforce in metro counties, there are a lot more of them. Multnomah County alone has more workers over the age of 55 (104,000 workers) than all of rural Oregon combined (61,000). However, Multnomah County has nearly as many workers in the next youngest age group (100,000 workers ages 45 to 54), while rural Oregon has far fewer workers in the next youngest age group (49,000 workers ages 45 to 54). In general, metro counties will have an easier time filling vacancies left by retiring workers from their local workforce. Rural counties will need to recruit workers from other areas to sustain the size of their current workforces.

To learn about industries that have an older workforce, read "Oregon’s Aging Workforce by Industry and County, 2015", written by State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Oregon's Forest Sector Employment Totals 61,000 in 2015

In recent months we've updated the data for a project completed in partnership with the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Forest Resources Institute to provide a comprehensive count of forest sector jobs in Oregon.

Forest sector-related employment in Oregon totaled 61,000 in 2015, an increase of almost 4 percent from 58,800 in 2013. Forest-related jobs paid relatively well, with an annual average wage of $50,000, roughly 4 percent more than $48,300 for all jobs covered by unemployment insurance in 2015.

Primary forest products -- which includes sawmills and wood preservation, paper manufacturing, and veneer and plywood manufacturing -- made up the largest segment of the forest sector total with 19,500 jobs. Forestry support accounted for another 11,400 jobs, found in logging, sawmill and woodworking machinery manufacturing, and other forestry support-related industries. 

The state's forest sector also included 11,000 jobs in secondary forest products (e.g., millwork and other various types of wood product manufacturing), almost 7,700 forestry management jobs, another 4,700 jobs associated with wood product transportation, and 2,900 jobs with forest product wholesalers.

While forest sector jobs accounted for roughly 3 percent of all employment in 2015, the prevalance of forest-related jobs was much higher in some rural areas. Forest sector employment accounted for roughly one-fifth of all jobs in Grant County, and accounted for more than 10 percent of employment in Douglas, Lake, Jefferson, and Crook counties.

More details about Oregon's forest sector employment will be featured in the upcoming Oregon Forest Facts & Figures publication from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Difficulty Filling Job Vacancies Reaches Four-Year High

Our latest quarterly job vacancy survey results show Oregon businesses reported 52,300 job vacancies in fall 2016. That's an increase of 7,400 job vacancies compared with the prior fall.

The job vacancy numbers reflect continued, strong employment growth in the state. This fall the 2-to-1 ratio of unemployed Oregonians to job vacancies remained its lowest since comparable records began for the third consecutive quarter.

With continued job growth and low unemployment, businesses have also reported more difficulty filling job vacancies In fall 2016, the share of all job openings reported as difficult to fill (68%) hit its highest point in the four-year history of the quarterly job vacancy survey. For more than one-third (37%) of all difficult-to-fill vacancies businesses cited a lack of applicants, compared with 30 percent in fall 2015.

Anecdotes from employers across the state illustrated this challenge:
" Few applications; competitive labor market" (Rogue Valley)
" Low response to ads and poor response to completing the interview process." (Portland)
"Zero applicants" (Central Oregon)
"Just not many available [applicants] in this area." (Eastern Oregon)

Oregon employers also reported far fewer job vacancies paying less than $10 per hour. That's due in part to the state's rising minimum wage, which moved to $9.75 in one half of the state's counties and $9.50 in the other half as of July. Yet, the biggest increase in job vacancies over the year occurred for job openings paying between $15 and $20 per hour, well above minimum wage. The lack of applicants and other challenges faced by businesses in a competitive labor market could also push up wages.

For more details on recent Oregon job vacancies, visit the “publications” tab on and scroll down to the “Job Vacancy Survey” section. You can also contact me at or 503.947.1268 with questions!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Oregon’s Minimum Wage Consistently About Half the Median Hourly Wage

On July 1, 2016, the minimum wage increased from $9.25 per hour to $9.50 in Oregon’s 13 nonurban counties, and to $9.75 everywhere else in the state. Oregon’s minimum wage is set by the legislature to rise on July 1 each year through 2022, when it will reach $12.50 for nonurban counties, $14.75 in the Portland area, and $13.50 everywhere else. Starting in 2023, the minimum wage will increase annually with inflation. Nationwide, the minimum wage has remained $7.25 since 2009.

The recent and future increases could change the relationship of Oregon’s minimum wage and median wage over time by raising the minimum wage faster than the median wage. The median wage is the wage at which 50 percent of the jobs pay less and 50 percent pay more. The median wage tends to be a better indicator of what the “average” worker might earn compared with the mean, as the median is not as affected by very high wages.

Over the past decade, Oregon’s minimum wage has been about half the median wage. This is not by design, but Oregon’s minimum wage and median wage have moved roughly in tandem over time. As of early 2016, the most recent figure available, the median wage for most jobs in Oregon was $18.49 per hour. That was double the minimum wage at the time and consistent with the historical ratio of minimum wage to median wage.

Both the minimum and median wages have increased at a similar pace since the early 2000s. However, the percent change for the minimum and median wages varies from year to year. From 2001 to 2016, Oregon’s minimum wage increased at an annual average rate of 2.2 percent per year, while the median hourly wage increased at an annual average rate of 2.4 percent. In some years the median wage increases at a faster rate than the minimum wage, while the minimum wage increases faster in other years. The minimum wage was the same in early 2016 as it was the year before, while the median wage increased 2.6 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Wages are influenced by a variety of factors, but inflation explains at least some of the similarity in the increases of the median and minimum wages over the years. In fact, it’s had a direct impact on the minimum wage since 2004, when Oregon began adjusting the minimum wage each year based on inflation as measured by the U.S. City Average Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for All Items (CPI-U). The inflation-based adjustments will resume in 2023.

It will take a few years before we know for sure if the new minimum wage increases, enacted by Oregon’s legislature to occur each year from 2016 through 2022, will alter the relationship between Oregon’s minimum wage and median wage.

Article written by Nick Beleiciks, State Employment Economist at the Oregon Employment Department.

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 in Review: Another Winning Year of Job Growth in Oregon

Oregon’s job growth started 2016 with a sprint and finished the year strong, if not quite at a sprint’s pace. Early in the year, the state reached a personal record of 64,200 jobs added in the 12 months through April, before slowing down later in the year. The 49,500 new jobs added from November 2015 to November 2016 was enough to earn bronze as the third fastest November-to-November jobs gain since 2000, drafting behind 2015 and 2014 which came in first and second.

Oregon’s over-the-year growth rate of 2.7 percent was well above the historical average and ranks fifth for growth rates since 2000. That is a brisk rate, but noticeably slower than the previous two years of 3.3 percent in 2015 and 3.0 percent in 2014.

The jobs added in 2016 were not just low-paying jobs. On the contrary, a mix of industries paying lower, middle, and higher average wages contributed to overall job growth. This means the average real hourly wage of Oregon’s workers continued to rise. Now approaching $25.00 per hour, the average real hourly wage in 2016 is the highest it’s been in recent years.

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell over the year, moving from 5.6 percent in November 2015 to 5.0 percent in November 2016. The strong job growth during the year was matched by a fall in the number of unemployed and an increase in Oregon’s labor force. The unemployment rate in 2016 was well below Oregon’s long-term (back to 1976) historical average of 7.2 percent.

Learn more about key industries that drove job growth and the forecast for 2017 in the article "2016 in Review: Another Winning Year of Job Growth in Oregon" by State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Worker Access to Paid Leave Benefits

In the United States, 68 percent of workers have access to paid sick leave through their employers. A slightly higher share has access to paid vacation (73%) and paid holidays (75%). This access varies between the public and private sectors. In private industry, about two-thirds of workers have access to paid sick leave and just over three-quarters of workers have access to paid vacation and paid holidays. Among state and local government employees, access to paid sick leave (90%) far outweighs access to paid vacation and holidays (59% and 67%, respectively).

These figures come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey, which includes very little detail at the sub-national level. Oregon is grouped with the Pacific West region, which includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Access to paid leave benefits is a bit more widespread in this area of the country compared with the national average. Three-quarters of workers in the Pacific West region have access to paid sick leave and paid holidays, while 70 percent have access to paid vacation. Access to all paid leave benefits is more prevalent than the national average in the regional public sector, while the region’s private-sector workforce is more likely to have access to paid sick leave (73%) and less likely to have access to paid vacation (71%) and paid holidays (75%).

Full-time workers – those working 35 hours per week or more at their primary job – are far more likely to have access to paid leave benefits than part-time workers. Four out of five full-time workers have access to paid sick leave, and even more have paid vacation and holidays. Among part-time workers, just 31 percent have access to paid sick leave, 35 percent have paid vacation, and 39 percent have paid holidays.

The size of the employer also influences the availability of paid leave benefits. This is especially true in the private sector, while public-sector workers have a tighter range based on employer size. In the private sector, access to paid vacation and holidays improves as the employer size increases – workers at large employers are more likely to have access to these paid leaves than workers at smaller employers. In the public sector, there’s little variation in the availability of paid vacation and holidays by size; workers at smaller government establishments are about as likely as workers at the largest government establishments to be able to enjoy these forms of paid leave.

Read the full article "Worker Access to Paid Leave Benefits", written by Employment Economist Jessica Nelson.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

November Unemployment Rate Lowest in Benton County

Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in November at 3.9 percent. Grant County (7.5%) registered the highest rate for the month. Eleven of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 5.0 percent and five were at or below the national rate of 4.6 percent. Linn County saw its unemployment rate improve over the year by 1.5 percentage points, more than any other county. Josephine and Lake counties each saw their unemployment rates improve by 1.3 percentage points, and Deschutes and Klamath counties each improved their unemployment rates by 1.2 percentage points.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in all of Oregon’s six broad regions between November 2015 and November 2016. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (+3.8%). The Willamette Valley (+3.2%), Southern Oregon (+3.0%), Portland (+2.2%), the Oregon Coast (+1.6%), and Eastern Oregon (+1.2%) also saw growth.

See the full labor force and unemployment by area press release in 36 counties and metropolitan areas in Oregon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Dropped to 5.0 Percent in November

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.0 percent in November, from 5.3 percent in October. A year ago, in November 2015, Oregon’s unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.

In November, nonfarm payroll employment grew by 2,500, which was less than the average monthly gain of 4,400 jobs over the prior 12 months. November gains were strongest in professional and business services (+2,700 jobs); construction (+1,000); and financial activities (+700). These gains were partially offset by a weaker-than-normal trend in retail trade (-2,200 jobs). In October, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 3,900 jobs, as revised.

Retail trade did not hire as many workers as expected through November of this holiday shopping season. While the overall economy has posted job growth of 2.7 percent since November 2015, retail has gained less than 1 percent. Within retail there have been pockets of strength, while other areas have cut back. Motor vehicle and parts dealers expanded by 1,000 jobs over the past 12 months, to reach 26,300 in November. Nonstore retailers—such as electronic shopping and mail-order houses—also added 1,000 jobs over the year and employed a total of 9,000 in November. On the down side, two retail industries have cut jobs in the past 12 months: sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-900 jobs); and food and beverage stores (-400).

Construction shot up over the past two months, adding 2,300 jobs in October and another 1,000 in November. These rapid gains followed a plateau between February and September when employment held close to 90,000. The November total of 92,500 was the highest construction employment figure since August 2008 when there were also 92,500 employed in the industry.

Over-the-year growth slowed, as payroll employment grew by 2.7 percent since November 2015. Oregon’s growth was faster than the U.S. growth rate of 1.6 percent. Industries growing the fastest were construction (+6,400 jobs, or 7.4%); other services (+3,400 jobs, or 5.5%); and professional and business services (+10,200 jobs, or 4.4%). No industry declined in that time, but manufacturing (+1,000 jobs, or 0.5%); and retail trade (+400 jobs, or 0.2%) expanded by less than 1 percent.

Read the Oregon Employment Department's full press release

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Challenges Facing Rural Oregon

More than 83 percent of Oregon’s population is concentrated in the state’s eight metropolitan statistical areas. Rural cities and towns stand as islands of development surrounded by a sea of forest, farms, and rangeland. This distinct urban/ rural divide is in a large part due to Oregon’s strict land use planning laws, which encourage density in urban settings over suburban sprawl into rural communities. Oregon’s rapid job growth has received significant attention as employment growth ranked second fastest in the United States over the past year. Much of the current economic expansion is being driven by job growth in the state’s major urban centers, while rural Oregon continues its long and slow recovery from the devastating recession. Why is the pace of recovery so much slower in rural Oregon? What economic challenges do rural Oregonians face?

An Uneven Recovery

Oregon has been in a period of economic expansion since October of 2014 when total nonfarm employment levels exceeded the pre-recession peak. It was a long recession and slow recovery, taking six and a half years to add back all the lost jobs. However, in rural Oregon the recovery is ongoing. Today, employment levels remain 3.2 percent below the pre-recession peak in rural counties, while employment levels in urban counties are 6.6 percent above the pre-recession peak. In order to recover from the recession, rural counties would need to add nearly 8,000 additional jobs, which would take another year and a half at the current pace of job growth.


One of the largest challenges faced by rural economies is the overwhelming demographic trends that are leading to rapid aging in these communities. Natural population growth is low, in-migration is slow, and young people often leave rural communities to seek educational or employment opportunities in urban centers.

Oregon’s rural communities are growing, just at a much slower pace than in urban centers. According to Portland State University, rural counties added nearly 13,000 new residents between 2010 and 2015 (+1.9%), whereas urban counties expanded by 4.9 percent over the same period.

To learn more about the economic recovery, demographics, infrastructure and industry composition in rural Oregon, read the full article "Challenges Facing Rural Oregon" by Regional Economist Damon Runberg.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Multimedia Artists and Animators – An Emerging Occupation in Oregon

Employment of multimedia artists and animators in Oregon has increased rapidly over the past decade, with further job growth expected in the next 10 years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oregon has one of the highest concentrations of multimedia artists and animators in the country, coming in third behind Georgia and California.

Multimedia artists and animators create visual effects and animations for television, movies, video games, advertising, and other media. Many artists and animators are employed in the information industry, including motion picture and sound recording industries and software publishing.

In 2014, 70 percent of Oregon’s multimedia artists and animators were employed in the Portland metro area (Multnomah and Washington counties). The Portland area is also expected to add the most jobs in this occupation through 2024, with a projected growth rate of 19 percent. Just over half of the job openings in the Portland metro area will be new growth opportunities. The other job openings are replacement positions due to employees changing jobs or retiring.

Multimedia artists and animators make above-average wages in Oregon. The 2015 annual average wage for this occupation was $63,203, compared with the annual average of $46,899 for all occupations in Oregon. Workers in the Portland metro area make slightly more, with an average wage of $78,754 in 2016. This places the Portland area in the top 10 highest paying metropolitan areas for artists and animators in the nation.

Read the full article "From Pencils to Pixels: Oregon’s Multimedia Artists and Animators", written by Workforce Analyst Emily Starbuck