Two stories from our latest edition of Oregon Labor Trends highlight employment strengths in different regions of the state.
First, our regional economist in Eastern Oregon, Jason Yohannan, poses the question "is rural Oregon's economy more reliant on proprietors?" A very common way to earn a living is, of course, to get a job. Another less prevalent, but still quite common, course of action is to create your own job by operating a business. Business operators -- or proprietors -- account for a greater share of employment in Oregon's nonmetropolitan areas.
As you might expect, Oregon's nonmetropolitan areas demonstrate a much larger employment contribution from farm proprietors. After all, an agricultural image is often one of the first things to pop into one's mind when thinking about rural areas. But move beyond the obvious influence of agriculture, and the story is still similar. Nonfarm proprietors represented nearly 2 percentage points more of the employment picture in Oregon's nonmetropolitan areas over the share in metropolitan areas.
In rural Wheeler County, more than one-half of all jobs in 2010 came from proprietor employment. In Wallowa County, almost 45 percent of all jobs were proprietor jobs. In fact, if one ranked Oregon's 36 counties from top to bottom based on the ratio of proprietor jobs to total jobs, a nonmetropolitan county would occupy each of the first nine places. Clearly then, at least as measured by employment, business operators are a larger factor in rural Oregon's economy than they are in metropolitan Oregon's economy.
Next, our regional economist in Southern Oregon, Guy Tauer, offers a summary of manufacturing trends in Jackson County. Manufacturing comprises just over 8 percent of total covered employment in the county. In 2011, manufacturing's payroll was $252.8 million, or 9.6 percent of the county's total payroll.
The most recent employment data from quarterly unemployment insurance tax records show that Jackson County manufacturing employment increased by 462 jobs between March 2011 and March 2012. Oregon statewide manufacturing employment rose by 3,047 over the same time. Although Jackson County is home to about 3.5 percent of the state's manufacturing jobs, from March 2011 to March 2012, Jackson County accounted for about 15 percent of the state's total manufacturing job gains.