Monday, October 10, 2016

Construction is Largest Contributor to Deschutes County's GDP Growth in 2015

Deschutes County’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose to $7.34 billion in 2015 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The rate of growth was even more impressive with the additional $425 million in economic output representing a growth rate of 6.9 percent from 2014, the eighth fastest increase in the United States.

The rapid growth in Deschutes County’s GDP over the past year was due to rapid growth in the housing sector. Construction, primarily driven by residential building construction, was the largest contributor to local GDP growth over the past year. Construction accounted for around 19 percent of our GDP growth, but the industry only accounts for around 7 percent of the county’s jobs. Based on continued strong job growth in 2016, particularly in the construction industry, expect to see gross domestic product continue to rise into the near future.

Despite the rapid growth in GDP, levels of economic activity remain below pre-recession levels. GDP figures were 1.5 percent lower than the previous peak in 2006 or about $107 million dollars lower. Although total economic output remains below pre-recession levels, total nonfarm employment regained those pre-recession levels in early 2015 and Deschutes County has been in an expansionary period ever since.

To learn more, read Regional Economist Damon Runberg's full article "Deschutes County’s Economic Activity Among the Fastest Growing in the United States".

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Oregon Job Vacancies Hit All-Time High in Summer

Oregon businesses reported 61,000 job vacancies in summer 2016. That marks an increase of 19,700 job vacancies from the prior summer, and the largest number of job vacancies recorded in the state since the Oregon Job Vacancy Survey began in 2008.

After easing down since last summer, the share of job vacancies identified as difficult to fill rose again. Businesses said they faced challenges filling 63 percent of all vacancies. The share of job vacancies requiring previous experience has slowly drifted downward over the past two years. A majority (57%) of summer job vacancies still required previous experience though.

As is usually the case, health care reported the largest number of vacancies (11,600). Leisure and hospitality recorded the second-highest total (8,900), and construction continued its strong showing with 6,900 summer job openings. These three sectors accounted for almost half (45%) of all summer vacancies statewide. Even so, job openings were broad-based across the economy. Nine different industries reported at least 2,000 vacancies in summer. The number of vacancies more than doubled from summer 2015 in manufacturing, administrative and waste services, professional and technical services, and financial activities.
The average wage for job vacancies rose to $16.66 per hour in summer, a gain of more than $1 per hour from the prior year. The average was pulled up by a doubling of job vacancies with starting wages of at least $25 per hour. Occupations with the most vacancies in this high-wage category included carpenters, registered nurses, and electricians.

For more details on recent Oregon job vacancies, visit the publications page on and scroll down to the “Job Vacancy Survey” section.

Monday, October 3, 2016

AmeriCorps – Making a Positive Change in Your Community

AmeriCorps is a program in which participants serve in communities across the U.S and is often considered the “domestic Peace Corps”. Each year, 75,000 members complete assignments in education, environmental protection, economic opportunity, health care, public safety, and disaster services at public agencies, schools, nonprofits, community- and faith-based organizations. Since the establishment of AmeriCorps in 1994, about 900,000 members have participated in the program.

The skills developed by AmeriCorps members are important to employers across all sectors of the economy. Acquiring training and work experience in an area of expertise, developing a deep understanding of how to address social challenges, and enhancing leadership and problem solving skills, prepare AmeriCorps graduates for today’s global job market.

Members are eligible for tuition funding or service scholarships offered by more than 150 colleges and universities in the U.S. Another advantage of the program for AmeriCorps VISTA alumni is that they are provided one year of non-competitive eligibility for federal government jobs.

To learn more about AmeriCorps opportunities in your community, click on Join AmeriCorps.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Low-Paying Jobs Are Concentrated in a Few Occupations

Oregon’s minimum wage will increase each year through 2022, as outlined in Senate Bill 1532, which was passed on March 2, 2016.

The Oregon Employment Department has studied this topic from many angles. For example, we know minimum wage jobs account for about 5 percent of jobs in Oregon. Minimum wage workers are more likely to be women, under the age of 25, and without a college degree.

One topic relatively new to us is the study of which jobs in Oregon pay near-minimum wage. While we have been able to guess in the past using national data (and our own experiences), new estimates let us attach more concrete figures to which Oregon jobs pay near-minimum wage.

There are four occupations that employ more than 15,000 workers at wages below $10 per hour: fast food prep and serving workers, waiters and waitresses, cashiers, and retail salespersons.

The top 20 occupations with the greatest numbers of jobs below $10 per hour account for two-thirds of the lowest wage jobs. Together these occupations employ about 133,000 workers at hourly wages below $10 per hour.

To learn more, read Economist Will Burchard's article "Low-Paying Jobs Are Concentrated in a Few Occupations".

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Oregon’s Fastest Changing Jobs Between 2014 and 2024

Within the top 10 fastest changing jobs, half are related to health care. Physical therapist aides and assistants are both in the top five at 54 and 44 percent change in employment in the next 10 years, respectively. Employer surveys put a full-time average wage for physical therapist assistants at $55,000 a year and physical therapist aides at $29,000 annually.

Two information technology professions made the top 10 fastest changing jobs as well: web developers and computer and information research scientists. Computer research scientists develop solutions to problems in the field of computer hardware and software. Companies in Oregon that employ information research scientists include Intel, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Oracle. Jobs in this field require a professional or doctoral degree and typically pay $145,000 a year. 

Health care and information technology jobs are seen on the fastest growing lists consistently as the projections are updated every two years. Reasons for growth in health care jobs include a large, aging baby boomer population with complex medical needs and increased access to health care.

Web developers and computer research scientists are needed for the complex functions of businesses in the modern world. Even health care needs can be handled online, with doctors communicating primarily by email and web portals. Although health care and information technology jobs are frequently seen as the fastest growing industries, the specific jobs on the list can change, giving us insight into emerging trends.

For more information, read Workforce Analyst Kim Thompson's full article "Oregon’s Fastest Changing Jobs Between 2014 and 2024".

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

August Marks 50 Consecutive Months of Job Growth in Oregon

Oregon’s payroll employment grew for the 50th consecutive month as employers added 4,600 jobs in August, after a revised gain of 5,000 in July. Since June 2012, Oregon’s economy expanded rapidly, adding 208,200 jobs—an average gain of 4,200 jobs per month. Oregon hasn’t seen such a long string of monthly job gains since comparable records began in 1990. Nationally, August was the 71st straight month of job growth.

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in August, an increase from July’s rate of 5.2 percent. The rate has risen from a record low of 4.5 percent in the three months of March, April and May. Oregon’s labor force, which reached a record high of 2,065,000 in August, has grown rapidly in recent months as the number of people employed increased along with growth in the number of unemployed. Oregon’s unemployment rate remained close to the U.S. unemployment rate, which was unchanged at 4.9 percent in August.

Watch Nick Beleiciks discuss Oregon's employment situation:

Read the Oregon Employment Department's full release.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Women in Oregon's Construction and Forestry Sectors

In recent weeks we've fielded questions about the share of jobs held by women in Oregon, particularly in construction and forest-related industries. Since 1991, women have held between 45 percent and 48 percent of all private jobs in Oregon. In construction and forest-related jobs -- both male-dominated industries -- the shares have been lower.

The share of women in construction jobs rose slightly over the past two decades. In the early 1990s, women held between 13 percent and 14 percent of all jobs in the sector. That grew to 19 percent by 2015. Keep in mind that construction, like all industries, includes all types of jobs from management and administrative to jobs with hands-on responsibilities. It seems many of the women working in construction are not out on job sites. Estimates from the American Community Survey show roughly 3 percent of all construction and extraction jobs -- such as carpenters, electricians, roofers and the like -- are held by women.

Women also held 19 percent of all jobs in forest-related industries (see definition here) in 2015, a slight increase from 16 percent in 1991. We are currently working with the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Forest Resources Council to update our estimate of forest sector employment in the state, and expect to share more in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Oregon’s Wood Product Manufacturing Industry Is Still Important, Especially in Rural Areas

Between 1990 and 2016, annual average employment in wood product manufacturing dropped 23,600, or 51 percent. Similar losses were experienced in all subsectors, with sawmills and wood preservation dropping 5,400 (45%); plywood and engineered wood products dropping 9,500 (53%), and all other wood product manufacturing, which includes millwork and prefabricated buildings, dropping 8,800 (54%).
Several structural shifts in the wood products industry have contributed to the employment decline. First, there was a drop in timber harvests from environmental concerns in the early 1990s. As harvest from federal lands reduced the amount of available raw material to mills, employment dropped, indicating that harvest reductions were a cause for the employment loss in the early 1990s.

New technologies brought another structural change to the industry by making lumber mills less labor intensive. Employment continued to drop even after harvest levels stabilized in the late 1990s and did not increase much despite a housing construction boom in the mid-2000s. Jobs in wood product manufacturing per million board feet harvested dropped steadily after 2000, likely due to technology.

In addition to new technologies, smaller mills were shuttered, creating efficiency through economies of scale (larger mills can produce more per worker). The average production of sawmills operating in the western U.S. increased as smaller mills were shuttered and efficiency increased through economies of scale and new technology.

Lumber production per worker in Oregon increased rapidly in the early 2000s then dropped during the recession. It's likely that mills cut production through fewer hours instead of letting go of workers during the recession. After the recession, production per worker increased to the elevated levels it had reached before the recession. 

Oregon’s Wood Product Manufacturing Industry Is Still Important, Especially in Rural Areas

Even with the decline, wood product manufacturing is still a large industry in Oregon. In 2015 there were 22,403 people employed and over $1 billion in total payroll in wood product manufacturing. While statewide the industry makes up only 1.3 percent of total employment and 1.2 percent of total payroll, the concentration is much higher in some counties, especially rural ones. For instance, in Douglas County, 8.2 percent of total employment and 10.7 percent of total payroll was in wood product manufacturing. Most of the counties with a high concentration of employment in wood product manufacturing are rural.

In counties where the percent of total payroll exceeds the percent of total employment, average wages are higher in wood product manufacturing than the overall average wage. This is the case in most of the rural counties listed, indicating that wood product manufacturing provides some of the higher paying jobs in rural counties.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Computer Systems Design Industry

The private-sector computer systems design industry was hit hard by the recession – no, not the Great Recession, the one before it. Remember the high-tech recession of 2001? Oregon's computer system design industry shed more than 3,000 jobs from 2001 to 2003, nearly 30 percent of its workforce. Some of the job losses were due to the loss of entire firms; the number of business units in the industry fell from 1,437 in 2001 to 1,283 in 2003, a drop of 10 percent.

After the bursting of the tech bubble in 2001, the real need for the industry quickly resumed and growth continued much as it had before the bubble. The average long-run growth of employment in the industry from 1990 through 2015 was 6 percent per year. This is the industry that writes the software that runs computers, designs the integration of software and hardware, and operates data processing facilities, so it is natural that its growth will parallel our increasing use of computers.

The Great Recession, which resulted in Oregon job losses totaling 8.5 percent from early 2008 to early 2010, led to only modest job losses in the computer systems design industry. Annual average employment fell by only 100 jobs in 2009, from 9,700 in 2008 to 9,600 in 2009. Growth resumed in 2010. The industry has added 5,600 jobs since its low point in 2009, an increase of 60 percent, and employment stood at 14,900 in June 2016.

Further proof that the Great Recession had little effect on the industry is that the number of businesses continued to grow, albeit slowly, during the recession. Computer systems design businesses with employees numbered 1,772 in 2007. This number has grown each year, and since 2012, the industry has been adding more than 100 employers every year.

The industry's growth is reflected in the wages it offers. The computer systems design industry paid an annual average wage of $103,448 in Oregon in 2015. Its total payroll was more than $1.5 billion. Wage growth in the industry has also been better than average, 5 percent a year on average since 2009 versus 3 percent for all industries combined.

This growth is expected to continue. A recent forecast by the Oregon Employment Department predicts that the industry will add 5,700 jobs from 2014 to 2024 and end up with a total of 19,900 in the final year. That is growth of 40 percent and compares with expected employment growth of 14 percent for all industries combined in Oregon.

For more on industry structure and occupations, read Erik Knoder's full article: Computer Systems Design Industry

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Oregon's Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.2 Percent in July, Job Growth Continues

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in July, an increase from June’s 4.8 percent. It’s risen from a record low of 4.5 percent in the three months of March, April and May. Oregon’s labor force, which reached a record high of 2,058,000 in July, has grown rapidly in recent months as the number of people employed grew along with growth in the number of unemployed.

Oregon’s payroll employment added 3,800 jobs in July. Gains were largest in health care and social assistance (+2,100 jobs); professional and business services (+1,600); leisure and hospitality (+1,200); transportation, warehousing and utilities (+1,100); and other services (+1,000). Meanwhile, the industries with the biggest declines in July were manufacturing (-1,200 jobs) and construction (-1,100).

Watch Nick Beleiciks discuss Oregon's employment situation:


Monday, August 15, 2016

Finding a Candidate Who's the "Right Fit" for the Job

Since 2013, the Oregon Employment Department has conducted the quarterly Oregon Job Vacancy Survey. We ask employers in all industries and all areas of the state about the jobs for which they are actively recruiting, including whether or not they experience difficulty filling vacancies.

Each year, Oregon businesses have reported increasing difficulty filling job vacancies. The share of all vacancies reported as difficult to fill rose from 48 percent in 2013 to 51 percent in 2014. By 2015, employers reported challenges filling 28,300 (or 59%) of the state’s 48,100 job vacancies.

Many of the primary reasons businesses report related to hiring difficulty fall into distinct categories, most commonly a lack of applicants or lack of qualified candidates. A portion of difficult-to-fill job vacancies are not so easily classified though. In 2015, almost 1,900 vacancies fell into the “other” category. This included an assortment of unique or unclear descriptions of challenges filling openings: some businesses were “not sure” why their vacancies are difficult to fill; some admitted “We are picky!” in selecting candidates; others cited the “industry” as the challenge.

Among these “other” reasons for difficulty filling vacancies, one has been on the rise over the past few years. A small but increasing share of responses identified difficulty finding a candidate who’s the “right fit” for the job or the company’s culture. While this response would only account for 1 percent of all difficult-to-fill job vacancies in 2015, they tend to be concentrated in some specific types of occupations: management; business and financial; computer and mathematical occupations; sales and related occupations; and office and administrative support.

For example, the company seeking its next CEO may well be looking for a person who will either embrace and further the business’s established culture, or specifically lead the organization in a new direction. In another case, the church looking to fill an associate clergy position could certainly be looking for a specific combination of skills and beliefs in alignment with the job. It’s difficult to discern from limited survey responses what employers really mean when they comment that jobs are difficult to fill for “fit” or “culture” reasons. At least in some cases though, these responses provide insights into occupations where a specific – if difficult to categorize – set of qualities may be desirable for employers.

To learn more about occupations where the "right fit" matters, read Senior Economic Analyst Gail Krumenauer's full article "Difficulty Finding a Candidate Who’s the “Right Fit” for the Job".

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Declining Labor Force Participation is not Unique to Oregon

Oregon’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population that is either employed or unemployed – peaked in 1998 at 69.0 percent and has since generally declined. The labor force participation rate (LFPR) fell to 61.0 percent in 2013, the lowest annual percentage since comparable records began in 1976. Oregon’s LFPR remained very close to the 2013 series low in both 2014 and 2015 at 61.1 percent.

The trend in Oregon’s LFPR resembles the overall trend for the United States, which peaked in the late 1990s and has since fallen to historically low levels.

One of the main reasons for falling participation since the late nineties is changing age demographics. People 16 to 24 years of age are delaying entry into the labor force to a greater extent than in the past due to increased participation in school-related activities, lowering labor force participation rates for this age group and by extension the overall LFPR.

People aged 65 years and over – an age group most likely to be out of the labor force due to retirement – make up a larger share of the civilian noninstitutional population today than they did in the late nineties, as the oldest members of the baby boom generation began to reach this age category in 2012. LFPRs for people age 65 years and over are much lower than those for the prime working age group – people age 25 to 54 years. Therefore, as the baby boom generation continues to age into the 65 years and over population group, overall LFPRs will experience downward pressure as a larger share of the population reach an age group with an LFPR that is historically lower than those for other age categories.

To learn why the labor force participation varies by county, read Local Area Unemployment Statistics Coordinator Tracy Morrissette's full article "Oregon Labor Force Participation Rates by County, 2015".