Friday, July 1, 2016

Fourth of July: Stars & Stripes and Fireworks

Oregonians across the state will be celebrating the 240th anniversary of our nation’s Declaration of Independence with barbeques featuring Oregon-grown fare, pies made from Oregon cherries, and fireworks as permitted under Oregon Revised Statutes 480.110 through 480.165. They will also enjoy displays created by Oregon’s professional pyrotechnic companies.


The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that $311.7 million worth of fireworks were imported from China in 2015. U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $12.7 million in 2015, with Singapore purchasing more than any other country ($4.6 million). According to the 2012 Economic Census, sales of fireworks by wholesalers totaled $482.6 million, while sales of fireworks by retailers totaled $368.6 million.

Stars and Stripes

In 2015, the annul value of imported U.S. flags was $4.4 million according to the International Trade Statistics. The majority of imported flags were from China, with a value of $4.3 million. The U.S. exported $3.1 million worth of U.S. flags, with Mexico being the leading customer.


In July, 1776, about 2.5 million people lived in the thirteen independent colonies, according to Historical Statistics of the United States, 1789-1945. Last Fourth of July, the estimated U.S. population was 321.4 million and Oregon’s population was 4 million.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Oregon Continues to Attract Migrants

In 2015, Oregon’s population increased by 51,100, surpassing the mark of 4 million residents. This marked growth of 1.3 percent over the year. A lot of Oregon’s population increase was due to net migration, which at 40,600 people was the largest net migration since 2006. Natural increases contributed 10,500 to population growth, which may be the smallest natural increase since 1973.

A positive value of net migration means more people moving into an area than leaving it, while a negative value of net migration indicates more people leaving an area than moving in. An area naturally increases in population if more births than deaths occur in a given year.

From 2010 to 2015, Oregon’s net migration gain was 120,000, which made up about 65 percent of the population gain. The net migration gain in metro areas of the state was 105,100, which accounted for 88 percent of total net migration gains in the state. Since 83 percent of Oregonians live in a metro area, this gain suggests the share of Oregonians living in metro areas is increasing slightly.

While metro areas in Oregon grew 5.3 percent between 2010 and 2015, rural areas grew only 2.2 percent. In some cases, counties saw a decline in population. Declines can occur due to losses in both natural growth and net migration, or one of the two factors outweighing the other.

To learn more about the counties experiencing population declines, read Employment Economist Felicia Bechtoldt's article "Oregon’s 2015 In-Migration Was the Highest Since 2006".

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Half of Top 20 Fastest Growing Occupations Are in Health Care

At the broad occupation group level, construction (21%) and health care (19%) top the list for fastest growing by 2024. In terms of fastest growing, half of the top 20 fastest growing occupations are in the health care field.

Service occupations (which include protective services, building and grounds cleaning, personal appearance workers, funerals service workers and more), and professional and related (computer occupations, engineers, drafters, scientists, education, and more) rank first in most job openings.

Service occupations made up 18 percent of the jobs in 2014, and are projected to comprise 22 percent of the openings over the decade. Office and administrative support shifted in the opposite direction, making up 15 percent of the jobs in 2014 but only 11 percent of the total openings over the 2014 to 2024 period.

Six out of 10 total job openings (440,100) are expected to be due to the need to replace workers who retire or otherwise leave their occupation, with the remaining due to new or expanding businesses.

The top five occupations in terms of projected openings with high school or less as the typical entry-level education are sales or service occupations. Those with postsecondary certificates or an associate’s degree as the typical entry-level education include health care occupations, truck drivers, automotive technicians, and computer users support specialists. In the bachelor’s or higher category, the top five are more varied.

More information about Oregon's occupational employment projections to 2024 can be found in the employment projections box on the Publications page at

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Oregon’s Labor Market Largely Unchanged in May

Oregon’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.5 percent in May, the same rate as in the prior two months. This kept the state’s rate close to the national level, as the U.S. unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in May and 5.0 percent in April.

Payroll employment gained only 1,200 jobs in May, following gains averaging 5,300 per month over the prior 12 months. In May, most industries closely followed their normal seasonal patterns, with only a few major industries deviating substantially from their typical trend. Retail trade added 800 jobs and financial activities added 800. Meanwhile, other services cut 600 jobs while manufacturing cut 400.

Despite the modest May job gains, Oregon added 61,300 nonfarm payroll jobs over the year, equaling a growth rate of 3.5 percent. Since May 2015, construction grew at the fastest rate of the major industries, adding 8,100 jobs or 9.9 percent.

Manufacturing was the only major industry to decline since May 2015, as it cut 1,300 jobs, equaling a loss of 0.7 percent. May was the fourth consecutive month of declines in manufacturing. Several component industries within manufacturing cut jobs over the year including sawmills (-300 jobs), primary metals (-500), transportation equipment (-300), and paper manufacturing (-200).

For information, read this month's Employment Situation.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Health Care Leads Long-Term Job Growth in Oregon

The Employment Department's long-term employment projections to 2024 are now available for 100 industries and 700 occupations statewide. Oregon's largest industries -- such as health care and professional and business services -- are generally expected to add the most jobs in the coming years. Health care and professional and business services are also two of the three industries expected to grow the fastest by 2024.

Fast growth in health care (22%) can be attributed to the growth and aging of the state's population. Within health care, offices of practitioners (such as chiropractors and speech therapists) and other specialists are expected to grow by 29 percent, and nursing and residential care facilities should see job increases of 27 percent. That's much faster than growth in hospitals (9%).

Professional and business services growth (21%) will be driven by gains in professional and technical services such as computer systems design (40%) and management of companies and enterprises (27%). Management of companies and enterprises includes corporate headquarters offices in the state.

The state's fastest-growing sector will be construction (22%), just edging out health care. Strong demand, low inventory, and a growing population should contribute to the buildup in construction. This is particularly the case in Central Oregon, where construction growth is projected at 32 percent, and in the Portland area (Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties) with growth expected to reach 23 percent over the decade.

Despite rapid growth, projected construction employment (97,000) in 2024 falls short of the industry's peak employment (104,200) in 2007. Manufacturing, financial activities, and information are also expected to remain below peak employment levels between 2014 and 2024.
More information about Oregon's industry projections to 2024 can be found in the employment projections box on the Publications page at, or in the complete industry projections article

Friday, June 10, 2016

View from the Top (Wages, That is)

How would a wage of $78,500 strike you? Probably as a really good wage, but not an absolutely spectacular one. Now, how would you like to make that much every three months for a total annual wage of $314,000? Welcome to the world of the top 1 percent.

There were roughly 1.8 million workers in Oregon during the third quarter (July-September) of 2015. The top 1 percent comprised 18,168 individuals. The median, or middle, wage for this group was $78,499 for the three-month period, equal to $24,166 per month. The lowest wage in the group was $57,002 for the quarter, equal to $19,000 per month. If you made only $57,001 that quarter, you were in the bottom 99 percent of wage earners. Sorry.

The distribution of wages for the top 1 percent of wage earners is similar in shape to the distribution for all wage earners. The curve is relatively flat for most of its length, showing that most workers earn wages that are relatively close to the median wage. Nearly 80 percent of the workers in the top 1 percent had earnings within a range of the median plus or minus 50 percent. The curve becomes very steep at the right end, showing that only a small number of people at the top earn wages far above the median wage of $78,499 per quarter. In other words, even within the top 1 percent, there is significant inequality in wages.

For more on occupations and industries, read: View from the Top.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Not Working Now the Norm for Teens

Having a part-time or summer job used to be the normal situation for many teenagers. The labor force participation of teens averaged around 59 percent from 1978 to 2000. The rate started falling dramatically in 2001 – both in Oregon and the nation – but never rebounded as it had after past recessions.

Oregon's strong job growth since 2013 was able to attract more young adults into the labor force, and the participation rate of those, ages 20 to 24 years, rose slightly to 72 percent in 2015. The labor force participation rate of teens continued its downward trend, falling to 34 percent despite the strong job growth.
Read the full article from Nick Beleiciks: Not Working Now the Norm for Teens.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Third Quarter 2015: Jobs and Wages Record Solid Growth

The median wage rose by $0.33 per hour to $17.55 per hour over the year from the third quarter of 2014 through the third quarter of 2015. The number of jobs in Oregon increased by more than 67,000 during the same period. The fastest growth overall was in jobs that paid $60 or more per hour. Growth was slower in the middle-wage jobs, and the number of jobs paying less than $10 per hour declined over the year.

Leisure and Hospitality

The leisure and hospitality industry provided about 12.5 percent of all jobs in Oregon in the third quarter of 2015. This industry includes restaurants, hotels, golf courses, and fitness centers. Many jobs in this industry pay low wages. The Oregon Legislature recently passed a law that will increase Oregon’s minimum wage in coming years. Some economists expect that the leisure and hospitality industry will be affected more than most industries by the new and higher minimum wages. One question economists consider is: will the higher minimum wage change the distribution of wages paid in some industries?

It is too soon to tell if the distribution of wages will change in the leisure and hospitality industry, but we can examine the existing distribution using recent data.

The leisure and hospitality industry has a larger percentage of its jobs in lower wage categories, as indicated by the red line being above the blue line at the left side of the graph. In the third quarter of 2015, nearly 41 percent of leisure and hospitality jobs paid less than $10.25 per hour. This compares with only about 16 percent of the jobs for all industries combined in the same wage category. In a few years, we should be able to tell if leisure and hospitality becomes more like other industries in its pay practices.

To learn more about jobs and wages in the third quarter 2015, read Regional Economist Erik Knoder's and Special Projects Analyst Barbara Peniston's full article "Third Quarter 2015: Jobs and Wages Record Solid Growth".

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Peace Corps volunteers earn an employment advantage

I was 15 when I found out that English classes were offered by a group of Americans -- Peace Corps volunteers -- in my native city, Chisinau. I didn’t know why Americans were in Moldova teaching English, but I jumped at the opportunity to learn English with native speakers. But I learned more than English; I learned about American values, such as tolerance towards minority groups, the concept of community service, and freedom of speech and the press. The Peace Corps played an important role in my upbringing and I am grateful to all Peace Corps volunteers that make a difference in people’s lives all over the world.

Benefits of Joining the Peace Corps

The skills developed by Peace Corps volunteers are important to employers across all sectors of the economy. Acquiring international work experience in a particular area of expertise, as well as cross-cultural competency, leadership skills, professional savvy, and fluency in foreign languages prepare Peace Corps graduates for today’s global economy. Depending on your work area in the Peace Corps and the job you would like to do, many employers consider Peace Corps service as work experience.

Peace Corps volunteers return home with proof that they enhanced professional abilities in specific areas and overcame challenges, setting them apart from other job applicants. During service, volunteers are given a tremendous amount of responsibility and autonomy. In order to successfully complete their tenure as a volunteer, they must develop the ability to self-manage and solve challenging problems without intensive management from their supervisor, who is often located in a different city.

A significant employment advantage for volunteers is the one-year noncompetitive eligibility for jobs in the federal government. After completion of service, federal agencies may expedite the hiring process for returned volunteers by hiring them without a vacancy announcement, formal screening, interview or other federal recruitment steps. The decision to hire a returned Peace Corps volunteer, however, remains at the discretion of the hiring agency and the candidate must meet the minimum qualifications for the position. 
To learn more about how Peace Corps can help you advance your career, read Economist Felicia Bechtoldt's full article "Peace Corps - A Launching Pad for a 21st Century Career".

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Oregon's Counties Continue to See Unemployment Rates Decline

Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April 2016 at 3.4 percent. Grant County (7.8%) registered the highest rate for the month. Ten of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 4.5 percent and 16 were at or below the national rate of 5.0 percent. Sherman and Curry counties saw their unemployment rates improve over the year by 2.2 percentage points and 2.0 percentage points, respectively; more than any other counties.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in all of Oregon’s six broad regions between April 2015 and April 2016. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (+4.9%). The Willamette Valley (+3.1%), Portland (+2.7%), Southern Oregon (+2.3%), Eastern Oregon (+1.7%), and the Oregon Coast (+1.4%) also saw growth.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Employment in Coffee, Tea, and Snack Food Manufacturing in Oregon

You don’t really need them (some of us do), but the temptation is too great: snack food employment rose by 33 percent from 2010 to 2015, while coffee and tea brewed up a mean pot of its own, rising by 34 percent.

Coffee and tea manufacturers roast coffee, blend tea, and manufacture coffee and tea concentrates. The industry was spread across 14 Oregon counties in 2015. Multnomah County led the industry with 26 employers, followed by Lane and Washington counties with seven units each. Multnomah County represented about two-thirds of the state’s coffee and tea manufacturing in 2015 with an average firm size of about 26 jobs. The remaining one-third of the industry’s jobs was dispersed across 13 counties with an average size of around 10 jobs. Employment rose by nearly 8 percent in 2015, a gain of about 70 jobs. Since 2010, employment in coffee and tea manufacturing has risen by about 350 jobs.

Oregon represented 5 percent of U.S. coffee and tea manufacturing employment in 2014. Just 30 states disclosed employment in 2014, and Oregon ranked fifth nationally. Oregon’s location quotient (LQ) relative to the U.S. hovered at about 4.0 in 2014. An industry's location quotient measures the concentration of employment in one area relative to a larger reference area. Multnomah County’s LQ was more than double that level, at 9.4, followed by Lane County (5.2) and Washington County (2.7).

Snack food manufacturers operated from 11 Oregon counties, although the industry’s employment profile was dominated by a few large firms. With 930 jobs and 18 employer units in 2015, the average firm size was about 51. The industry’s employment rose by about 100 jobs or 12 percent in 2015. Since 2010, employment in snack food manufacturing has risen by about 310 jobs. Relative to the U.S., snack food manufacturers in Oregon produced a location quotient of 1.25 in 2014. Oregon was one of 36 states that disclosed snack food manufacturing employment in 2014, representing roughly 2 percent of the U.S. industry total.

To learn more about coffee, tea and snack food manufacturing in Oregon, read Regional Economist Dallas Fridley's full article "The Other Food Manufacturing Group: Starring Snack Food, Coffee, and Tea".

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Drinking Water and Wastewater Operators, the Work Behind our Water

When you turn on your faucet and fill a glass with pure, clean water, do you ever wonder how it got there? When you rinse your glass and the water spills down the drain, do you think about where it goes? For most of us, we take this modern wonder for granted and can’t imagine life without the convenience of running water in our homes. My grandmother sure would have appreciated it. She needed to carry five buckets of water a day from an open well to provide all the water she needed for her family, and she could not have imagined the sophisticated infrastructure used to deliver water to households in a modern American city.

Today, drinking water and wastewater operators use computerized systems to monitor plant processes, operate equipment to purify water, and process and dispose of wastewater. The American Water Works Association projects that almost 50 percent of today’s drinking water and wastewater operators will retire within the next five to 10 years. In Oregon, replacements make up 83 percent of the total annual openings due to the aging labor force and retirements. As retiring operators empty the ranks of the profession, there are great opportunities for workers seeking career advancement, higher wages, benefits, flexible work schedules, choice of employment location, and employer-supported trainings.

“This occupation could be a great fit for veterans that are coming from the military with a lot of transferable skills in mechanics, equipment operation and engineering,” says Mark Ingman, program coordinator at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Wastewater System Operator Certification Program.
In 2015, the average annual wage for this occupation was $50,484, which is defined as a high-wage occupation. Wages for this occupation are high across the state. The highest average wages are in the Portland-Metro area with $54,885, Lane area with $54,697, and Rogue Valley with $52,503. High wages are also paid in Northwest Oregon ($50,546), East Cascades ($50,451), and Mid-Valley ($50,219).

To learn about work opportunities for drinking water and wastewater operators, read Economist Felicia Bechtoldt's full article "Drinking Water and Wastewater Operators, the Work Behind our Water".