An Uneven Recovery
Oregon has been in a period of economic expansion since October of 2014 when total nonfarm employment levels exceeded the pre-recession peak. It was a long recession and slow recovery, taking six and a half years to add back all the lost jobs. However, in rural Oregon the recovery is ongoing. Today, employment levels remain 3.2 percent below the pre-recession peak in rural counties, while employment levels in urban counties are 6.6 percent above the pre-recession peak. In order to recover from the recession, rural counties would need to add nearly 8,000 additional jobs, which would take another year and a half at the current pace of job growth.
One of the largest challenges faced by rural economies is the overwhelming demographic trends that are leading to rapid aging in these communities. Natural population growth is low, in-migration is slow, and young people often leave rural communities to seek educational or employment opportunities in urban centers.
Oregon’s rural communities are growing, just at a much slower pace than in urban centers. According to Portland State University, rural counties added nearly 13,000 new residents between 2010 and 2015 (+1.9%), whereas urban counties expanded by 4.9 percent over the same period.
To learn more about the economic recovery, demographics, infrastructure and industry composition in rural Oregon, read the full article "Challenges Facing Rural Oregon" by Regional Economist Damon Runberg.