Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Employment-related Halloween Fun Facts

It's that time of year for pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, and costumes. Here are a few Halloween fun facts:

The number of chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery manufacturing establishments in Oregon during 2013

Oregon’s number of sewing, needlework and piece goods establishments in 2013, for those inclined to create homemade costumes

The number of Oregon farms that harvested pumpkins for sale in 2012

The number of occupied housing units statewide in 2013 for Oregon trick-or-treaters to visit

Friday, October 24, 2014

Beyond the Binary Curtain: Oregon's Data Processing and Hosting Industry

The construction of multiple data centers in Oregon during the past decade has brought more attention than usual to a small and secretive part of Oregon’s economy: Data processing and hosting. The data processing, hosting, and related services industry is tracked within the broader information sector of the economy – which we most associate with “high-tech” and the Internet. 

Oregon’s information sector remains a small part of the state’s economy – only consisting of around 32,000 jobs in 2013 – despite dominating the news cycle. Data hosting is an even smaller portion of that pie. Approximately 3,519 people or 0.2 percent of the state’s workforce were employed in the data processing and hosting industry in 2013. In contrast, California employed 23,600 and Washington employed 5,188 people in the industry. 

Statewide staffing patterns show that the data processing and hosting industry is dominated by educated employees. When looking at the top 10 occupations in the industry (Table 1), seven require a bachelor’s degree to be competitive. 

More interesting than overall employment in the data processing and hosting industry is the wages these employees receive for their work. Data from Oregon’s covered wage records (which do not include self-employed workers) shows that data processing wages grew during the year ending in the first quarter of 2014. Workers were paid an average of $51.45 per hour, compared with a median wage of $37.79 per hour.

The Employment Department estimates that employment in the information sector will grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the state as a whole. Regardless of future staffing levels, technology will continue to evolve to try to meet society’s demand for connectivity. As such, Oregonians can expect to hear (or read about) the low hum of more servers in the future.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Employee Tenure Increased During Recessionary Years

Median tenure for employees 16 and over in January 2014 was 4.6 years. This estimate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics means that half of all workers in January 2014 had been working for their current employer for more than 4.6 years, and half of all workers had been working for their current employer for less than 4.6 years.

Changes in employment levels and the unemployment rate were the focus of the most recent recession, but employee tenure saw a shift -- although perhaps less dramatically -- during this period too. In fact, between 2008 and 2012, median employee tenure jumped from 4.1 years to 4.6 years. Median tenure did not change between 2012 and 2014.

Tenure likely increased for a number of reasons. First, tenure tends to rise as the population ages. Since employee tenure naturally increases with age (on average), an increase of workers in older age brackets push median tenure up. Another reason for an increase in tenure is a decrease in job openings and hires. A decrease in job openings and hires means employees are more likely to stay put in current positions.

As median tenure has increased over the past decade, the gap between tenure for men and women has narrowed. Both groups increased tenure, as population increase and the recession affected both groups, but an increased labor force participation rate among women has helped to close this gap.

Median tenure is lower for those with less than a high school diploma. Despite this, there is not a distinct relationship between longer tenure and higher educational attainment. For example, high school graduates had a median tenure of 5.8 years in January 2014, but those with a bachelor's degree had a median tenure of 5.4 years.

Median tenure varies quite a bit depending on one's occupation, and tends to increase as wages increase. Management and professional (6.2 years), education (6.2 years), and protective service workers (6.5 years) have longer tenures, while food prep (2.2 years) and personal care service (2.9 years) workers have shorter median tenure. All occupations saw an increase in median tenure between 2006 and 2014.

For more on median tenure in the United States: Employee Tenure in 2014.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Education Pays: Career Earnings by College Major

The more education an individual has, the more likely he or she is to earn higher wages. As discussed in one of our recent posts, in 2013, a worker with a bachelor's degree earned a median wage of $1,108 a week, while a worker with a high school diploma earned $651.

Workers with a bachelor's degree do earn more, but they also have to (usually) forgo four years of full time work to earn the degree. Despite losing out on earnings these four years, however, a recent analysis by The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution shows that a bachelor's degree is well worth the investment.  

Higher earnings by workers with a college degree are not much of a surprise, and it is not much of a surprise that these wages translate to higher lifetime earnings. A more interesting question is, after (or before) deciding to attend college, which major should a student choose? While education pays, which areas of study make investing in a college education pay off even more?

A series of interactive charts put together by The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution helps to answer this question. The charts allow searches across a number of majors and education levels, but here is a quick summary of a few occupations:

Notice that computer science majors have higher annual earnings that nursing majors, journalism majors, and high school diploma earners at almost every point in their careers. Looking at nursing majors, annual earnings don't increase as much as annual earnings for journalism and computer science majors, but the earnings do start off at the highest level of the measured occupations.

How do higher annual earnings for computer science, nursing, and journalism majors translate into lifetime earnings? The chart below breaks down lifetime earnings (in present value) for each of these majors.  

To do an analysis with majors of your choice, see The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lower Unemployment Rates in Columbia Gorge and Oregon's Metro Areas

Hood River County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in September at 5.2
percent. Grant County (11.1%) registered the highest rate for the month. Fourteen of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 7.1 percent and three were at or below the national rate of 5.9 percent. Harney County saw the largest improvement in its unemployment rate over the year with a drop of 2.2 percentage points.
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in five of Oregon’s six broad regions between September 2013 and September 2014. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (+3.2%) and the Willamette Valley (+2.7%). Southern Oregon (+1.9%) and Portland (+1.7%) followed with notable growth, while the Oregon Coast (0.1%) and Eastern Oregon (0.0%) were essentially flat over the year.

For additional information, visit and select an area on the Regional Information map.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Most Popular Jobs by Income Bracket

Here's a new interactive chart from NPR that gives a look at most common occupations by income bracket across the United States (2012). Click and enjoy exploring. Notice that you can click on any box in the chart, and the same occupation will be highlighted yellow in each category.

NPR's chart provides great visual evidence that helps analyze data and trends from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. For example, in the 99th percentile of earners, the four most popular jobs are: physicians, managers, chief executives, and lawyers. In the bottom three brackets (that is, the 30th percentile and below), nursing aides make up more jobs than any other occupation, followed by cashiers, cooks, janitors, and housekeepers/maids.

Truck drivers are one of the more interesting occupations featured in the chart. They are one of the top ten most popular occupations in 9 out of 12 groups on the chart. In fact, they are the tenth most popular job in the $72k-$103k (80th-90th percentile) income category, but are also the tenth most popular job in the $12k-$21k (10th-20th percentile) category. In the $26k-$48k range, truck drivers were the second most popular. This speaks to the wide variety of duties and demands faced by truck drivers.

While we don't (yet) have such a fancy chart for Oregon's occupations by income bracket, you can find out about Oregon's occupations in demand here: Occupations in Demand (2014).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This Week's Business Openings and Expansions

All of our collected business announcements can be found here: Around the State. Here are a few standouts from this week.

Openings and expansions:

  • Dave and Buster's, an arcade, restaurant, and sports bar, will open its first Pacific Northwest location at Clackamas Town Center next month. It will employ 290 people. Portland Business Journal, 10/10/2014
  • Legacy Mount Hood will open a medical office building and outpatient services center in Gresham. Portland Business Journal, 10/3/2014
  • Blue Star Donuts Mississippi opened in north Portland. Neighborhood Notes, 10/7/2014
  • Forest River Inc., a manufacturer of recreational vehicles, pontoon boats, cargo trailers, and buses, will open a facility in Silverton. It will employ about 20 people and could add 40 to 50 more. Appeal Tribune, 10/15/2014
  • Living Pacific Seafood, a Newport-based seafood wholesaler, plans to open a fish processing plant in Depoe Bay. News-Times, 10/4/2014
  • PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center in Florence will begin a $5 million expansion of its emergency department early next year. Siuslaw News, 9/23/2014
  • Harry & David in Medford will hire more than 1,100 call center workers for the holiday season and about 200 more for other temporary jobs. Mail Tribune, 10/13/2014
  • Discount Groceries opened a third Grants Pass store. It is run by Southern Oregon Outreach Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Grants Pass Daily Courier, 10/4/2014
  • Harrison Animal Clinic in southeast Portland closed. The Bee, 10/3/2014
  • Ring of Fire, a Thai and Pacific Rim restaurant, bar, and catering service in Eugene, closed. Eugene Weekly, 10/9/2014
For more business news, check out this week's full report.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Unwrapping Holiday Hiring

Retailers and package delivery companies rely on the holiday season to provide an end-of-year boost in sales that makes operating during the rest of the year worthwhile. Some businesses hire extra workers, often on a temporary basis, to get them through this busy time of year.

The number of jobs added by "holiday hiring" industries with strong holiday employment patterns was lower than average in 2013. The season's holiday buildup was led by stronger than usual growth by couriers and messengers (UPS, FedEx, etc.); health and personal care stores; and sporting goods, hobby, and book stores.

Here are total jobs numbers for industries we would expect to see a holiday hiring boost:
It's too early to say how well staffed the stores will be on opening day of this year's holiday shopping season ("Black Friday" - November 28, 2014). Industry trends through August show that retailers have not been adding a lot of jobs recently. However, the September 2014 employment forecast from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis expects Oregon's retail trade employment to grow in the fourth quarter of 2014 by 1,500 jobs more than the typical seasonal increase.

The following graph is a breakout of which industries saw the greatest buildup during the holiday hiring season, along with their average September-December buildup. 

For more on the holiday hiring season, read Nick Beleiciks' full article here: Unwrapping Holiday Hiring.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oregon's Unemployment Rate Unchanged, Payrolls Down Slightly in September

Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in September, the same as August's revised rate. While Oregon's unemployment rate has hovered near 7.0 percent throughout the year, the national unemployment rate has improved, down to 5.9 percent in September.

Although the unemployment rate hasn't moved much, Oregon's labor force expanded rapidly in recent months, adding 5,600 in September. Meanwhile, the national labor force declined by 97,000 in September. Oregon's labor force participation rate also rose in recent months, from 61.1 percent in June to 61.5 percent in September.

Payroll employment growth stalled in Oregon in September. Oregon lost 300 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis last month, following revised gains of 4,200 jobs in August. Employment rose by 37,300 (+2.2%) between September 2013 and September 2014. Industries that led expansion over the past year include professional and business services (+7,800 jobs), health care (+5,800), leisure and hospitality (+5,600), and manufacturing (+5,000).

More information about Oregon's employment situation can be found in the full news release at!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Summer Job Vacancies Reach a New High

Oregon businesses reported 49,600 vacancies this summer. That's 6,700 more vacancies than last summer and the most found by any Oregon Job Vacancy Survey, which began in the spring of 2008. The growing number of vacancies reflects the busy summer hiring season and long-term improvement in the job market.

Three large industries reported more than 5,000 vacancies apiece: health care and social assistance (10,800); management, administrative and waste services (10,400); and leisure and hospitality (5,400). Although these few industries accounted fore more than half of all vacancies, employers were looking to fill openings across a wide range of occupations this summer. The occupational groups with the most vacancies were food preparation, office and administrative support, health care, and construction. Compared with last year, the number of vacancies increased the most for health care (+8,400) and construction-related (+3,900) occupations.

Employers had a slightly more difficult time filling job vacancies this summer. Since the spring of 2013, difficult-to-fill vacancies have made up roughly half of the total. In the summer of 2014, that share was 58 percent for Oregon statewide. Central and Eastern Oregon each reported three out of four vacancies (74%) were difficult to fill.

You can find more information about job vacancies in Oregon through the Quarterly Job Vacancy Survey Snapshot available at!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Advertising and Public Relations - the Mad Men of Oregon?

The American Movie Channel’s series Mad Men depicts Madison Avenue advertising executives during the 1960s. Back then people wore suits and dresses to work every day and smoked in the office. The means of delivering advertising was largely in print and television advertising was the new and developing medium.

The need for advertising and public relations services has not changed since the days of Mad Men. Advertising is still an essential part of business. It’s needed to gain attention and sell a product whether it’s a consumer product, political candidate or government program. 

Despite the similarities, some things have changed.  Many companies have more casual dress codes and people don’t smoke in the office anymore. Print and television are declining as a share of overall advertising revenue and the Internet and email are taking over as the developing ways to deliver advertising.
Oregon advertising and public relations firms employ nearly 6,000 workers (Graph 1). It was hard-hit during the Great Recession as advertising dollars dried up, losing about 730, or 13.7 percent of its jobs compared with an 8.5 percent loss for all industries. Since the recession, the industry has grown rapidly, adding 1,250 jobs (27%) to reach about 5,900 in early 2014.

Another thing that has not changed since the days of Mad Men is that the industry is characterized by some very highly paid executives and creative people in art and writing who then rely on a variety of lower paid workers to produce and deliver their work.  Three industries stand out for high pay: advertising agencies ($83,623), public relations agencies ($71,889) and media buying agencies ($100,432). Two stand out for their low average pay: advertising material distribution services ($23,595) and other services related to advertising ($18,465).

For more on advertising and public relations in Oregon, read Brian Rooney's full article: Advertising and Public Relations - the Mad Men of Oregon?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Help Wanted on the Rise for Auto Mechanics in Oregon

Openings for auto mechanics revved up in 2013 and continues to accelerate, although August seems to be the seasonal peak for hiring mechanics. The Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) data series from The Conference Board allows us to see the broad trends in occupational demand, as well as identify specific job opportunities within an occupation. 

Overall, there were 2,100 fewer HWOL ads in Oregon and 137,200 fewer ads nationally in September, following strong gains in August. Despite this drop, hiring demand continues to show modest overall growth for 2014, as measured by the number of help wanted ads posted online. The overall high level of advertising by employers suggests continued job growth.

Around Oregon, the number of ads fell in each metro area, but the demand is still trending upwards in most areas.

For more information about Oregon's HWOL series, check out our monthly summary at!