Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Travel Nursing in Oregon

Travel nurses are employed by a staffing agency, which contracts with health care facilities to provide RN coverage for short periods of time. The typical assignment is 13 weeks, but can be shorter or longer depending on the facility’s needs or if the parties agree to an extension. The staffing agency usually helps the traveler locate housing, and can reimburse some travel and licensing costs. They also vet the candidates’ skills and specialties, reducing the administrative burden on healthcare facilities. This arrangement allows travelers to work in areas far from home, and allows healthcare facilities short-term, stable contracts to meet workforce needs.
Nearly all travel nurses in Oregon work in hospitals and health systems. According to The Demand for Nursing Professionals in Oregon, a report from the Oregon Center for Nursing (OCN), nearly 75 percent of hospitals and health systems surveyed reported using travelers in 2015, in contrast with less than 10 percent of all other kinds of facilities.

No agency or organization keeps steady statistics on the number of travelers, but there are a few things we can say about the occupation. We can get a ballpark estimate of how many travelers work in Oregon by using some unpublished data gathered by OCN. In the last three years, there were 850 RNs with an active Oregon nursing license who worked in Oregon and lived outside the state certified to practice in the state using licensure they received in another state.

This number includes travel nurses coming from out of state, the largest numbers of which come from nearby states like California, Washington, Idaho, and Arizona, as well as states like Texas and Florida. This estimate captures some non-travelers, such as nurses practicing telemedicine in Oregon across state lines, and fails to capture in-state travelers (such as a Portland-based nurse who works in Ontario or Roseburg).

Based on this data, an estimated 500 to 1,200 travel nurses likely worked in Oregon over the past three years, with fluctuations based on economic conditions and health policy changes. Travelers were a small part of the 33,421 RNs employed in the state in 2014 according to Oregon Employment Department data.

Read the full article by Workforce Analyst Henry Fields

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Oregon’s Employment Declines for the Second Consecutive Month in September

In September, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 3,800 jobs, following a revised loss of 7,000 in August. These job losses followed rapid gains during February through July, when a total of 42,600 jobs were added in just six months.

In September, four industries cut more than 1,000 jobs, while two added more than 1,000. Leisure and hospitality (-3,700 jobs) cut the most as this industry returned to the long-term trend line after a spike upward in June and July. With vacancy surveys indicating that many firms are having trouble attracting workers, part of the weakness in hiring is likely due to the tight labor market.

Professional and business services (-3,100 jobs) cut back at a time of year when a flat trend is typical for the industry. The industry appears to have stalled from its upward trajectory over the past eight years. Each of its published component industries cut jobs since September 2016: employment services (-1,400 jobs), business support services (-400), and services to buildings and dwellings (-1,500). The two other industries that cut substantially in September were private educational services (-1,400 jobs) and other services (-1,200).

All was not lost in September, as construction added 2,900 jobs and government added 1,400.

These preliminary estimates of jobs and other labor force data are produced in cooperation with the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, are based largely on a survey of businesses and a survey of households, and are subject to later revision.

Read the full press release

Monday, October 16, 2017

Higher Share of Males in Oregon’s High-Tech Industry

The Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators show that at the beginning of the second quarter of 2016, Oregon’s high-tech industry was 69 percent male and 31 percent female. Looking back in time, there has been a slow but steady upward trend in the percentage of males, increasing from roughly 61 percent male in the early 1990s.

Within the high-tech industry, the industries with the largest share of males in 2016 were aerospace product and parts manufacturing (84%), semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing (73%), and software publishers (70%). One industry, other information services, which includes companies that store and provide access to information through the internet, had a slightly higher share of females at 52 percent to 48 percent male.

The disparity becomes more apparent at the occupational level. The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data shows that in computer and mathematical occupations in 2015 Oregon was roughly 76 percent male and 24 percent female. In architecture and engineering it was roughly 85 percent male and 15 percent female. The higher percentage of females in the industry data compared with the occupational data is likely due to other, nontechnical occupations at tech companies such as front office, finance, and marketing. It may also help to explain the tech sector industry trend towards a higher percentage of males in recent years since workplaces overall have become more technical through time.

Read the full article by Regional Economist Brian Rooney and for more information about Oregon's high-tech industries, read "Oregon's High-Tech Employment Trends - What is High Tech?" by Workforce Analyst Emily Starbuck.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Jobs in Renewable Energy

In the U.S., renewables provided 15 percent of the energy generated in 2016 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Hydropower accounted for 6.5 percent of the U.S. electricity generation; wind power provided 5.6 percent; biomass provided 1.5 percent; and solar and geothermal accounted for 0.9 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

In Oregon, 68 percent of electricity was generated from renewable resources in 2015, mainly hydroelectric power plants. In 2016, there were about 1,800 jobs in the renewable energy sector in Oregon. This includes establishments that are primarily engaged in operating hydropower, geothermal, biomass, wind, and other electric power generation facilities. It excludes establishments that build renewable energy power facilities, and manufacture and install renewable energy technologies. Nearly three out of four jobs in renewables were in the government, the majority being in the Bonneville Power Administration. Oregon’s hydropower facilities provided 84 percent of the jobs (1,521). Other renewables provided 296 jobs. 

The average wage in the sector was $100,468 in 2016. Common jobs in the renewable energy sector include power plant operators; electrical power-line installers and repairers; power distributors and dispatchers; wind turbine service technicians; solar photovoltaic installers; electricians; electrical engineers; environmental engineers; and financial analysts. In Oregon, these occupations have hourly median wages that range from $19.47 for solar photovoltaic installers to $45.33 for power distributors and dispatchers. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Poverty and Age in Oregon

Oregon’s poverty rate dropped more than 2 percentage points in 2016, to 13.3 percent. Among the states and Washington, D.C., Oregon’s 2016 poverty rate ranked right in the middle at 25th lowest. Poverty rates in 2016 ranged from 7.3 percent in New Hampshire to 20.8 percent in Mississippi in 2016. Back in 2006, Oregon’s poverty rate ranked 30th among the states and Washington, D.C. In the midst of the Great Recession in 2011, Oregon’s poverty rate ranked 36th lowest.

Many of the people in the United States who fall below the official poverty threshold are children or elderly. This is why economic conditions and the availability of jobs don’t change poverty rates very drastically or quickly – many of the people in poverty aren’t willing or able to take a job, so job availability doesn’t change their likelihood of being below the poverty line.

In 2016, just about one-third of the people below the poverty line in the U.S. were under the age of 18. In Oregon, a smaller share of those in poverty were children, at 27 percent. There were 40,200 Oregon children under the age of five in poverty in 2016; they made up 8 percent of people below the poverty line. Another 104,100 Oregon children ages five to 17 were in poverty, accounting for 19 percent of the total below the poverty line.

People age 65 and over make up one out of 10 people in poverty. In Oregon in 2016, 50,900 people age 65 and over had income below the poverty line. However, the population age 65 and over is large enough that the elder population actually has the lowest poverty rate. Oregonians age 65 and over make up 17 percent of the state’s population, but just 9 percent of those in poverty.

Read Economist Jessica Nelson's full article "Poverty and the Oregon Workforce".

Friday, October 6, 2017

Oregon Businesses Report Record 66,600 Job Vacancies in Summer

Businesses continued to report strong hiring demand across Oregon’s economy this summer, with a record-breaking 66,600 job vacancies. 

Health care and social assistance (12,400 vacancies) accounted for one out of every five job openings statewide. Construction businesses reported 8,700 vacancies, which reflects the continued, strong growth in the industry. Farms also reported large numbers of seasonal jobs, and hiring demand at private schools hit its highest level since the quarterly job vacancy survey began in 2013.

Summer also represented the largest average wage recorded, $18.15 per hour, for job vacancies in Oregon. Year to year, growth in hiring demand was strongest for vacancies paying $25 per hour or more (+34%). This trend was driven by an increase in the number of job openings for skilled construction trades and more vacancies in management occupations.

The Mid-Willamette Valley and Central Oregon reported relatively large numbers of job vacancies. Seasonal farm work boosted the summer job openings in the Mid-Valley. Meanwhile Central Oregon reported many vacancies for wildland firefighters.

More information about Oregon’s job vacancies can be found in the attached summary, and on the Publications Page of

Monday, October 2, 2017

Oregon Labor Force Participation Varies by County

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 60.9 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, before climbing to 62.6 percent in 2016.

Labor force participation rates for Oregon’s counties in 2016 ranged from a high in Hood River County of 77.2 percent to a low in Curry County of 45.8 percent.

Counties located in the Northern part of Oregon, and especially in the Columbia River Gorge, generally had higher LFPRs in 2016. Counties located along the coast, and in the Southern and Eastern parts of Oregon generally had lower LFPRs.

Read the full article written by Local Area Unemployment Statistics Coordinator Tracy Morrissette.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Paper Cuts: Oregon’s Declining Paper Industry

Paper manufacturing began in Oregon with the Pioneer Paper Manufacturing Company in 1866, but the mill closed in less than a year. The Clackamas Paper Manufacturing Company opened in 1868 and was followed by Willamette Pulp and Paper in 1889 near Oregon City. The Crown Mill opened in 1890, and Hawley Pulp and Paper opened in 1909. Some of the early mills struggled with uncertain manufacturing processes and could not produce enough paper to be profitable. Newsprint was an important product for early mills.

The modern paper industry in Oregon has two major divisions: the pulp and paper manufacturing side with 11 facilities, and the converted paper products (such as box making) side that has 43 facilities. There are a multitude of types of paper manufactured: containerboard, tissue, newsprint, paperboard, copying paper, coated and uncoated, and a nearly endless list of specialty papers.
Employment in paper manufacturing in Oregon has declined for decades, but it remains an important industry in the state. Paper manufacturing provides about 4,200 jobs in Oregon, down from around 10,000 in 1976. In 1976, paper manufacturing accounted for a little more than 5 percent of Oregon’s manufacturing jobs; by 2016 its share was down to 2.3 percent of manufacturing employment. In this respect it is similar to the wood products industry, which fell from about 40 percent of Oregon’s manufacturing jobs to about 12 percent over the period.

The drop in employment over the years is only partly due to decreasing output. Physical output in 2015 was only 15 percent lower than in 2001 yet employment fell by 41 percent over those years. Since 1997 the value of output has varied from nearly $1.3 billion to $734 million to (2009 dollars), but the industry’s employment has steadily declined in Oregon.

Read about the occupations, wage effects of unions, and the employment outlook in the paper manufacturing industry in the original article written by regional economist Erik Knoder

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wildfires Had Little Impact on August Employment Figures

August employment reports for local areas were released on Tuesday, September 19. The reports were released as Oregon rains returned to help put an end to the fire season. However, the employment figures in the report pre-date most of the flare-ups, so wildfires and smoke likely had little impact on the recently released figures. The timing of the wildfires may impact the September employment figures, which will be released on October 17 (statewide only) and October 24 (local areas).

Employment Department regional economists in Central Oregon, the Columbia Gorge, the Portland area, and Southern Oregon provided the following information about wildfire employment impacts in their areas. Central Oregon was the only area with wildfire-related employment impacts in August. Deschutes County’s accommodation and food services industry lost more than 200 jobs in August, a month where tourism usually adds jobs.

The wildfires are expected to have a negative impact on September’s employment in tourism industries. However, these industries typically shed seasonal employment jobs in September. Since the wildfires and smoke coincided with the end of the tourism season, it may not be possible to fully tell which jobs were lost due to the unusual wildfires and smoke, and which jobs were cut as the usual tourism season ended.

Many wildland firefighter jobs are outside the scope of the monthly job growth figures. Data about the increase in wildland firefighter jobs will be available in about four months.

For more details about the employment impact of Oregon's wildfires in Central Oregon, the Columbia Gorge, the Portland Area, and Southern Oregon, read the full article on QualityInfo.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Rural Areas Have Older Workforces

During the recent recession, falling home values and decimated nest eggs forced many older workers to delay their retirement plans for a few years. Now the oldest of the baby boomers are reaching full retirement age and leaving the workforce. Their retirements could leave holes in the workforces of some industries, occupations, and counties. Effectively replacing the coming wave of retirees is one of the key workforce challenges facing Oregon.

The workforces of rural counties tend to have a high share of older workers. In counties outside metropolitan areas, more than one out of four (27%) workers has reached age 55. That represents nearly 63,000 workers in rural Oregon who are probably hoping to retire sometime this decade. The question is: will there be enough workers in rural areas to replace them?

The extreme examples are Wheeler and Gilliam counties, where more than one-third of workers are 55 or older. Wheeler County has about 281 payroll workers at private businesses or working for state and local governments in the county, and about 107 (or 38%) are in the 55 and over age group. It may be a challenge to keep the same level of economic activity going in Wheeler County unless new workers can be attracted into the area.

Although older workers are a smaller share of the workforce (23%) in more urban areas, there are a lot more of them. Multnomah County alone has more workers over the age of 55 (104,000) than the total 63,000 in all of rural Oregon combined. No area of the state will avoid the effects of retiring boomers.

Read the full article "Aging Workforce and Looming Retirements" written by economists Nick Beleiciks and Gail Krumenauer

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

August 2017 Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

Benton and Washington counties had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in August at 3.5 percent. Grant County (6.4%) registered the highest rate for the month. Crook (6.1%), Josephine (5.9%), and Curry (5.9%) counties also had some of the highest unemployment rates in the state this month.

Nine of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 4.1 percent and 11 counties were below the national rate of 4.4 percent. Gilliam County saw its unemployment rate improve over the year by 2.0 percentage points, more than any other county. Other counties that saw a large improvement in their unemployment rates were Wallowa, Baker, and Jefferson, where the unemployment rates improved by 1.5, 1.4, and 1.4 percentage points, respectively, over the year.
See the full labor force and unemployment by area press release in 36 counties and metropolitan areas in Oregon.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Oregon’s Nonresident Workers

Oregon’s open beaches, rugged mountains, and grape-filled hillsides make it a popular destination for visitors. But there’s something else about Oregon that attracted nearly 111,000 people from out of state in 2014 – jobs. Roughly 7 percent of people who make their living in Oregon, make their home in some other state. Not surprising to anyone driving the bridges over the Columbia River during rush hour, four out of five of these nonresident workers come from Washington.

The 88,106 Washingtonians working in Oregon in 2014 accounted for almost 6 percent of all workers with jobs in Oregon. Among Oregon’s other neighbors, there were 7,776 Californians; 7,062 Idahoans; and 523 Nevadans working in Oregon.

The fact that people live in neighboring states and work in Oregon isn’t surprising. But what about workers living in Texas, New York, Florida, and other far away states? Their numbers more than quadrupled between 2004 and 2014, but they’re not likely crossing the Snake River on I-84 each morning to get to work. Nonresident workers may live in both states but maintain their primary residence outside Oregon, or work in Oregon on temporary assignment, or they may have moved during the year and their residency status wasn’t updated yet. Residency is assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau based on data from federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration, so basically where the worker files their taxes is considered home. 

One possible explanation for the growing number of nonresident workers is the rise in teleworking – regular employees working outside the conventional workplace and interacting with others via communication technologies. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people working from home in Oregon increased by 18,142 from 2007 to 2014. There’s a good chance that teleworkers are driving some of the increase in Oregon’s nonresident workers.

Read the full article written by State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks and Regional Economist for Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, and Tillamook counties, Erik Knoder