Friday, December 19, 2014

Median Wage for Young Adults in Oregon: Then and Now

The U.S. Census Bureau's report Young Adults Then and Now compares statistics for young adults (ages 18-34) across the most recent few decades. In short, the young adult population has declined, makes less money, is more likely to be unemployed, more likely to live with parents, and more likely to have a college degree. 

In Oregon, median earnings for young adults declined from $36,912 in 2000 to $32,813 in the 2009-2013 American Community Survey. Read the Census Bureau's report for more detail on other measures, like employment, education, and ethnicity.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Strong Job Growth Across Many Oregon Industries in November

November's payroll employment broke a number of records in Oregon. Payroll employment reached its all-time high, and grew past its pre-recession peak for the first time. Oregon saw the largest one-month employment gain (+11,200) since comparable records began in 1990.

The professional and business services sector has grown faster (+6.4%) than any other over the past year. Click on the different series in the graph below to explore other sectors.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oregon's Payroll Employment Reaches All-Time High in November

November was a record month for employment in Oregon. Payroll employment is now at its all-time high, finally surpassing the pre-recession employment peak seen in December 2007. Here are a few highlights from this month's press release:
  • Seasonally adjusted payroll employment jumped to a record 1,740,800, which was 3,000 above the prior peak in December 2007.
  • November was the largest one-month gain (+11,200) for Oregon since comparable records began in 1990. 
  • The labor force grew for the seventh straight month, with over-the-year gains of nearly 41,000.
  • The unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.0 percent, partly because employment gains have been matched by rapid labor force growth.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Employed Young Adults in Oregon: Then and Now

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its report Young Adults Then and Now. It compares a number of statistics on young adults ages 18-34 down to the census tract level across the U.S. In Oregon, 71.7 percent of young adults were employed in 2000. Between 2009 and 2013, 65.2 percent were employed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Share of Self-Employed Workers in Oregon

by Jessica Nelson, Economist,

Self-employed workers who run unincorporated businesses are a larger slice of Oregon’s labor force than they are for most states and the nation as a whole. There were 163,000 self-employed Oregon workers in 2013. They accounted for 9.3 percent of workers in Oregon, compared with the national self-employed rate of 6.5 percent. That places Oregon among the “most self-employed” states, ranking 6th in the nation in 2013.

It could be our frontier-loving nature – there is, after all, a self-selection process that has made many independent minded and entrepreneurial types choose Oregon to call home. It started with the Oregon Trail, but it didn't end there. Oregon continues to draw residents from far outside its borders. Job growth has struggled to keep up with the talent streaming across our borders, and in some cases, these new residents choose to start businesses, joining yet another frontier landscape; that of the self-employed.

In the last two recessions, the share of employment that is self-employed has dipped. It has yet to show a consistent trend after the Great Recession that ended in 2009. Nationally, the self-employment rate is much more stable, although it has declined slightly during the past two decades.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Regional Employment Comparisons in Oregon

As part of an ongoing project, we've been compiling several employment metrics for industries in various sub-state areas across Oregon. So far, we've put together employment, establishment, wage, and location quotient data for most of the western side of the state. Here are two snapshots of what we've found to date.

In terms of private payroll employment, the largest jobs number for any given area is in food services and drinking places. Beyond food services, a health care-related industry made the top three for every area except the South Coast (Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties). Professional and technical services were prominent in Clackamas County, and the employment total for the accommodation industry in Northwest Oregon -- which includes Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, and Lincoln counties -- hints at the perennial importance of tourism along the coast.

Private utilities was among the highest-paying industries in nearly all areas. The high average wage in Clackamas County's publishing industries is driven by software publishing firms. In Lane County, two manufacturing-related industries made the list.

For more information about employment and wages in Oregon, visit the Industry Employment and Wages page at

Friday, December 5, 2014

Total Nonfarm Employment Made Strong Gain in November

From State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks:

The U.S. added 321,000 jobs in November, which was a strong gain. Oregon also saw a strong gain in October, adding 9,900 jobs. Both Oregon and the U.S. have seen solid job growth in the preceding months, but Oregon has been adding jobs at a faster pace than the nation for nearly two years (since February 2013, over-the-year growth has been faster in Oregon).  Oregon’s October 2013 to October 2014 growth was 2.9 percent. The U.S. over-the-year growth was 2.0 percent in both October and November.

The national unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8 percent in November. Oregon’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.0 percent in October. Both unemployment rates are remaining stable despite the job growth because the labor force is growing to fill the new jobs. A difference between Oregon’s labor force and the U.S. labor force is that Oregon’s labor force participation rate is rising (61.8% in Oct., +0.7 over the year), while the U.S. participation rate is essentially unchanged (62.8% in both October and November., -0.2 over the year).

The most recent forecast from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis predicts similar job growth in 2015 (+2.6%), with the unemployment falling just slightly (6.7%) as the labor force continues to grow.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Two Languages Get the Job Done / Dos Idiomas Cumplen con el Trabajo

According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 15 percent of Oregon households speak a language other than English at home. In nearly 3 percent of Oregon households, no one age 14 and over speaks English only or speaks English “very well”. Many businesses and organizations want bilingual workers on staff to help serve these customers who have limited English proficiency.

There are currently 359 job openings listed with the Oregon Employment Department that mention a desire for applicants with bilingual skills. Of these, 14 percent require applicants to be bilingual, while the other 86 percent prefer bilingual skills, but don’t require it.

The occupational groups with the most listings mentioning bilingual skills are:
  • Office and administrative support (34%) 
  • Community and social service (24%)
  • Sales and related (10%) 
  • All others combined (32%)
The level of language proficiency required varies depending on the nature of the work. While some jobs may require only an ability to communicate verbally, others will require the ability to read and write at the same level as English. It is also important to note that many companies will require knowledge of industry specific terminology in both languages.

For more about how bilingual workers can benefit a business, see Knowing More Than One Language Says a Lot on a Resume.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Net Migration Accounts for Most of Oregon's Population Growth

Population growth is split into two major categories: natural increase and net migration. Natural increase is simply the number of births in an area minus the number of deaths. Net migration is the the number of people who move into an area minus those who move out.

Portland State University's Population Research Center estimates these numbers for Oregon, and recently released their preliminary estimates and summary for 2014.

A few highlights from the preliminary estimates:
  • Oregon's population increased by 43,545 (+1.1%) to 3,962,565
  • 74% of Oregon's population growth between 2013 and 2014 occurred due to net in-migration, while 26% came from natural increase
  • Net in-flow of movers has increased for the fourth straight year

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Unemployment Rates in Oregon and Neighboring States

This is a wonderful time of the year to check in with the neighbors. Being the research types that we are, we decided to see what unemployment rates were doing in neighboring states.

Each neighboring state saw significant improvement in its unemployment rate over the year, unlike Oregon’s rate, which has been relatively unchanged since October 2013. That’s because Oregon’s labor force expanded to accommodate the state’s job growth without reducing the number of unemployed by very much. Labor force growth was slower in California and Washington, and was nearly nonexistent in Idaho and Nevada.

Job growth without labor force growth is a recipe for falling unemployment rates. Nevada’s unemployment rate drop was one of the biggest in the nation, falling 2.3 percentage points. That’s because the Silver State added 28,600 jobs in the last 12 months while the labor force grew by just 1,300 people, so those jobs were filled from the pool of unemployed.

Oregon’s unemployment rate has remained relatively stable over the last year and that is not likely to change soon. It is expected to continue to fall slowly, dropping to 6.5 percent over the next three years, according to the latest economic forecast from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.

Thanks to our state employment economist, Nick, for today's guest blog post!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Wage Inequality in Oregon: The Widening Gap

by Barbara E. Peniston, Special Projects Analyst,

In 2013, four-quarter employees earned a total of more than $65.6 billion in covered wages, an increase of nearly $25 billion over 1990. The gains in wage income, however, have not been evenly shared by all workers. High-wage workers' slice of the wage pie has increased in size, while that of low- and middle-wage workers has shrunk.

One way to track the degree of wage inequality is to compare wages by earnings percentile. 

In 2013, the bottom 20 percent of year-round Oregon wage earners made $17,873 or less and the bottom half of wage earners made $35,159 or less (Table 1). The top 10 percent of year-round workers in the state made more than $90,192 and the highest earning 1 percent of workers made more than $236,415.

The median wage of the top one percent of workers grew significantly between 1990 and 2013, while the median across all workers stayed flat (see the graph below).  The top 1 percent of all four-quarter workers rose 29.9 percent over the past two decades, from $243,997 to $316,906, after adjusting for inflation.  The median inflation-adjusted wage of all four-quarter Oregon workers was essentially stagnant, rising by only 0.9 percent. 

For more detail and information on Oregon's wage inequality, read Barbara Peniston's full article: Wage Inequality in Oregon: The Widening Gap.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Employment Fun Facts

As Thanksgiving approaches, here are some fun employment-related fun facts about the holiday:

Oregon's ranking among states in 2013 for cranberry production

The number of Oregon farms that harvested pumpkins for sale in 2012, some of which may end up in your pie

The number of grocery stores statewide with those last-minute items for the big meal

5.8 billion
The combined weight, in pounds, of young turkeys raised in the U.S. in 2013