Friday, July 21, 2017

The Labor Shortage in Oregon's Construction Industry

In the past two years, the construction industry added around 16,000 jobs – a whopping 20 percent increase – making it Oregon’s fastest growing industry sector. The construction industry accounts for around 5 percent of all nonfarm jobs in Oregon, however the industry accounted for greater than 17 percent of all nonfarm jobs added in Oregon over the past two years. A combination of rapid job growth and skilled workers leaving the industry during the recession led to a labor shortage in the building trades.

Fast growing communities, such as Portland, Bend, Salem, and Eugene, have all experienced difficulty finding construction workers to keep pace with demand. Construction employers identified 88 percent of their job vacancies as difficult to fill, the highest rate of all major industry sectors in Oregon. The occupation in Oregon with the most difficult-to-fill vacancies was construction laborers with over 1,500 vacancies identified as “difficult to fill” in 2016.

In the midst of this construction labor shortage and continued hiring demand, many are wondering where current construction workers are coming from. Are these in-migrants into the state? Are they leaving other industries lured by relatively high wages and consistent work?

Find the responses to the questions above in "New Entrants into Oregon’s Construction Industry Helping to Ease the Labor Shortage" written by Regional Economist Damon Runberg.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Oregon Adds 8,500 Jobs in June

In June, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by 8,500 jobs, following a gain of 2,600 in May. The June increase was the largest gain since February 2016 when 9,600 jobs were added. Gains were widespread among the major industries, with 11 of the 14 industries adding jobs. Leisure and hospitality added the most, increasing by 2,100 jobs. In addition, strong hiring occurred in construction (+1,600 jobs) and manufacturing (+1,400). Financial activities was the only major industry to cut substantially, as it shed 800 jobs.

Over the past 12 months, Oregon’s payroll employment rose 47,300, or 2.6 percent. This rapid pace was an acceleration from earlier in the year when over-the-year growth was hovering around 2.0 percent.

Oregon’s unemployment rate was little changed at 3.7 percent in June. The rate remained near its all-time low of 3.6 percent reached in May. Oregon’s rate was significantly below its year-ago rate of 5.1 percent in June 2016 and well below the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.4 percent in June 2017.

Read the Oregon Employment Department's full press release.

Friday, July 14, 2017

When the Jobs Get Weird, Oregonians Get the Jobs

The Oregon Employment Department categorizes over 800 specific occupations. However, for really unusual jobs there is no defined category or available statistics. It's worthwhile to study the jobs that fall outside of what we consider normal. After all, everyone is different and for some folks that perfect job may mean looking outside the jobs that exist today – and creating something truly original.

At the No Regrets Farm in Corvallis, Lainey Morse organizes yoga classes with her friend and yoga instructor, Heather Davis. Yoga is well known for helping people feel better both physically and mentally. Less well known, studies show that owning a pet lowers blood pressure and improves the mood of their owners. Combining the therapeutic value of yoga with the medical benefits of petting goats has been a big success. The goat yoga class at No Regrets Farm has thousands of people on the waiting list.

The sloth is a small, slow moving, tree dwelling mammal native to the rainforests of Central and South America. These adorable creatures are well known for their calm demeanor and soft fur. In the Oregon town of Rainier, the Sloth Center sustains the largest population of long-term, actively reproducing captive adult sloths in North America. The center is dedicated to providing a safe habitat for sloths.

The staff at the Sloth Center don’t just care for these rare and unusual creatures. They also provide opportunities for people to interact with the sloths. At the Sloth Center, the staff will teach you about sloths while letting you pet and feed the animals. Sloths sleep during the day. If you want to really spend some quality time with the sloths, the staff at the center will let you sleep in the sanctuary with the sloths. While it’s not a hotel, you’ll certainly never find another place to sleep where the employees instruct you about how to properly behave as sloths hang from artificial branches over your head.

Read the full article "When the Jobs Get Weird, Oregonians Get the Jobs" written by Workforce Analyst Christian Kaylor

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Job Stability and Instability in Oregon

In a typical quarter, about 30 percent of Oregon’s workers are in jobs that are considered not stable – they either recently began or will soon end. From the fourth quarter of 2015 through the third quarter of 2016 (the most recent data), an average of 525,035 people per quarter had jobs that were either new or ending (or both!) during the quarter they were counted. Adding to the mix is that job stability varies with the industry and time of year. A close look at the data shows that working Oregonians switch employers, industries, and careers with surprising frequency.

The natural resources and mining industry had the smallest share of stable jobs. This sector includes such seasonal industries as farming, fishing, and logging. Fewer than half of the jobs in the industry are stable. A job is counted as stable during a quarter if the employee also worked at least part of the previous and following quarters for the same employer. If this is the case, then the assumption is made that the employee worked all the reference quarter at the same job.

Stable jobs pay higher wages. In the summer quarter of 2016, stable jobs paid a median wage of $20 per hour; not stable jobs paid a median of $12.89 per hour. The median wage is the wage of the middle, or typical, worker. The smallest percent difference in wages between stable and not stable jobs was within the natural resources and mining industry (16.8%). This industry also had the smallest (37.3%) percentage of stable jobs that quarter. The largest percent difference in hourly wages between stable and not stable jobs was in professional and business services (87.4%).

Learn more about job stability and instability in "Double, Double Toil and... Job Change? Job Stability and Instability in Oregon" written by Regional Economist Erik Knoder and Special Projects Analyst Barbara Peniston.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Wave of Retirements in Oregon

For quite some time, the workforce within the State of Oregon has seen an upward trend in the age of workers. This could be attributed to many factors, but the number of baby boomers at or nearing retirement age is the main underlying reason for this demographic shift.

For the last 25 years, the share of the labor force aged 45 and older has increased, with the greatest relative increases occurring among the older age groups. Those within the labor force aged 45 to 54 years old have increased their share of the workforce by 3.2 percentage points since 1992, workers aged 55 to 64 have more than doubled their share of the workforce, and those aged 65 and over have nearly tripled their share. Workers 45 and over comprise 44.6 percent of the workforce today compared with 28.3 percent of the workforce in 1992.

Many workers pushed off retirement due to the Great Recession, which could very well be the reason we’re seeing more workers aged 65 and over remaining in the workforce. However, older workers will eventually retire and many employers will find themselves saying goodbye to more than just an employee.

Sectors that have the largest employment of workers 55 and over are educational and health services (both private and public) and professional and business services (private and public). In fact, one out of every four workers employed within the educational and health services industries is age 55 and over – arguably within 10 years of retirement. One out of every five workers employed within the professional and business services sector is age 55 and over.

Learn more about industries and occupations with a high concentration of older workers in "The Wave of Retirements and the Openings to be Filled" written by Workforce Analyst Kale Donnelly

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Monday, July 10, 2017

The Share of Minimum Wage Jobs Higher in Eastern Oregon

Roughly 5.5 percent of jobs (115,225 jobs) paid minimum wage or less in Oregon in the third quarter of 2016. There are some exemptions when workers earn less than the minimum wage. The share of minimum wage jobs in Oregon has not changed much during the last 16 years. Since 2001 Oregon’s minimum wage jobs have accounted for between 4 and 6 percent of total jobs. This share does vary by county, however.

Counties with a higher share of minimum wage jobs tended to be in rural areas. Eastern Oregon had a greater share of minimum wage jobs than other areas of the state. The highest shares of minimum wage jobs were found in Malheur (12.6%) and Harney (10.2%) counties. Other counties with a high percentage of minimum wage jobs included Grant (9.2%), Wheeler (9.2%), Baker (8.6%), and Wallowa (8.1%).
Six counties had a share of minimum wage jobs lower than the statewide share of 5.5 percent. These included Morrow (2.2%), Multnomah (3.9%), Hood River (4.2%), Washington (4.3%), Crook (4.8%), and Umatilla (5.4%) counties.

Read the full article "The Share of Minimum Wage Jobs Higher in Eastern Oregon" written by Economist Felicia Bechtoldt

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Job Flows Into Oregon

Each quarter between summer 2014 and spring 2015, Oregon added an average of 17,300 workers from other states, while 14,200 workers left Oregon for jobs elsewhere. That means on net each quarter an average of 3,100 workers from other states left jobs there to start one in Oregon.

The biggest exchanges occurred with neighboring West Coast states. Oregon’s quarterly net job flows from California averaged 1,100, while posting a net loss of 410 to Washington. 

By industry, the largest net worker gains from California occurred in retail trade (240), administrative and waste services (170), health care and social assistance (140), and accommodation and food services (140). Only one industry – agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting – saw a quarterly net loss of workers from Oregon to California between summer 2014 and spring 2015. Meanwhile, several industries experienced a net outflow of workers from Oregon to Washington. The largest among them was construction (-130), followed by accommodation and food services (-90), and retail trade (-60).

Washington was a unique case as the only state with a net outflow of workers; Oregon netted a gain of workers from every other state. After California, the largest quarterly job-to-job flows into Oregon came from Arizona (230), Illinois (130), New York (120), Texas (110), and Colorado (100). New England and Southern states had the fewest net job-to-job flows into Oregon. States with less than 15 workers taking jobs in Oregon included Delaware, Alabama, Maine, Vermont, Mississippi, Kentucky, and South Carolina.

Learn more about job flows within Oregon in the full article "Job Flows Into and Within Oregon" written by Senior Economic Analyst Gail Krumenauer.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Oregon Businesses Report Record 62,625 Vacancies in Spring

Private businesses in Oregon continued their strong hiring demand this spring. They had 62,600 job openings at any given time in the second quarter, the largest quarterly total since we began asking them in 2013.

Here's another sign of a strong labor market: the ratio of unemployed persons to job vacancies hit a record low in Oregon. In spring 2013, there were four unemployed Oregonians per job vacancy in the state. That dropped to a 1-to-1 ratio in spring, and some regions of the state actually had fewer unemployed persons than job openings. Given this, it's probably not surprising that businesses reported having difficulty filling 68 percent of all job vacancies, the highest share reported.

As is usually the case, health care and social assistance reported the most vacancies of any industry (11,300). Job openings included a variety of roles within the industry, including registered nurses, personal care aides, rehabilitation counselors, managers, receptionists, physicians and their assistants, and payroll clerks.

Leisure and hospitality vacancies bounced back up in spring after relatively smaller job opening totals in fall and winter. Construction  posted its highest quarterly job vacancy total (7,800) in the midst of continued, rapid employment growth.

Even though the minimum wage has increased, the bottom of the pay scale (at or just above minimum wage) is not where we see the most growth in job vacancies. The total number of job openings paying less than $15 per hour changed little over the year. Meanwhile, the share paying between $15 and $25 per hour grew from one-fourth of all job vacancies in spring 2016 to one-third of the total in spring 2017. 

Job vacancies for nine sub-state areas are available by clicking on the columns in the graph below.

More information about Oregon's job vacancies can be found in the Job Vacancy Survey section on the Publications page of 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fourth of July: Stars & Stripes and Fireworks

Oregonians across the state will be celebrating the 241st anniversary of our nation’s Declaration of Independence with barbecues featuring Oregon-grown fare, pies made from Oregon cherries, and fireworks as permitted under Oregon Revised Statutes 480.111 through 480.165


The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that $296.2 million worth of fireworks were imported from China in 2016. U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $10.0 million in 2016. 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 2016, the annual value of imported U.S. flags was $5.4 million according to the International Trade Statistics. The majority of imported flags were from China, with a value of $5.3 million. The U.S. exported $27.8 million worth of U.S. flags, with Mexico being the leading customer ($26.1 million).


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 323.1 million and Oregon’s population was 4 million.

The British Are Coming!

The United States and the United Kingdom eventually let bygones be bygones and repaired political, cultural, and economic ties. Centuries later, the value of trade between the U.S. and the U.K. was $109.7 billion in 2016, making our adversary in 1776 the seventh-leading trading partner today. Oregon exported $345 million in goods to the United Kingdom in 2016, making the U.K. the eleventh largest importer of Oregon's goods.

Learn more fun facts about the Fourth of July on the U.S. Census Bureau website.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Number of Jobs Affected by the July 1st Minimum Wage Increase

Oregon’s minimum wage increases on July 1, 2017, but the raises won’t be the same across the state. Minimum wage increases to $11.25 per hour inside the Portland urban growth boundary, $10.00 per hour in nonurban counties, and $10.25 in other areas of the state.

It is tricky to estimate the number of jobs that will be affected on July 1st because we do not know how many jobs, let alone minimum wage jobs, there will be in Oregon on July 1, 2017. However, we can use past data to estimate how many jobs the minimum wage increase will directly affect this year. Our best way to do this is to count the number of jobs that would have been affected if the minimum wage increase set to happen on July 1, 2017 was applied to jobs in July, August, and September of 2016.

In the third quarter of 2016, about 301,000 jobs paid below the new minimum wage scale. The approximate Portland urban growth boundary had about 159,000 jobs paying below the $11.25 per hour that will take effect on July 1, 2017. About 113,000 jobs were paying below $10.25 in the other areas that will increase to this level. Nonurban areas, which will see minimum wage increase to $10.00, had about 28,000 jobs paying below $10.00 in the third quarter of last year.

It is likely that the minimum wage increase on July 1, 2017 will affect at least as many jobs as we saw at or below the new minimum wage last year. Since Oregon’s job growth has been strong over the year, there is potential for the number of jobs affected to be greater than 301,000. However, not all jobs are subject to the minimum wage and workers in these jobs may continue to earn less. These factors impact the estimate of the number of jobs directly affected by the minimum wage increase on July 1.

See the full article "Oregon’s Minimum Wage to Increase Each Year Through 2022" by State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Per Capita Personal Income Higher in Portland Area and Columbia Gorge

In 2015, Oregon had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $43,783. The PCPI ranked 29th in the United States and was 91 percent of the national average, $48,112, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Per capita personal income is calculated by dividing total income by total population in the area. Total income includes wages from work, income from investments like stocks and real estate, and transfer payments such as social security benefits.

Per capita personal income varies among states and counties, and by metro and non-metro areas. A look at county numbers shows high variability in PCPI. In general, PCPI is higher in the Portland area and along the Columbia Gorge. Sherman County, a non-metro area, actually had the highest PCPI in 2015 at $57,526. Areas with a higher concentration of older residents can show lower PCPI. In Oregon, Malheur County ($30,255) and Jefferson County ($32,178) had the lowest PCPI.

Metro areas across Oregon tend to have higher per capita personal income than non-metro areas. In 2015, non-metro areas ($37,332) in Oregon had a PCPI just 82.8 percent of the metro figure ($45,040). In the U.S., PCPI of non-metro areas accounted for 76 percent of the metro PCPI.

Comparing metro Oregon with other metro areas across the nation, however, we see that Oregon’s metro PCPI lags the nation, and has for a long while. In fact, Oregon’s metro areas had a PCPI that was 95.5 percent of the national PCPI in 1995, 89.8 percent in 2005, and 90.4 percent in 2015.

On the non-metro side, Oregon’s PCPI kept pace to the national average for non-metros. While in 1995 PCPI in Oregon’s non-metro areas ($18,576) was actually higher than national PCPI in non-metro areas ($18,110), it was 98.2 percent of U.S. non-metro in 2005 and 98.6 percent in 2015.

To learn more, read Economist Felicia Bechtoldt's full article "Per Capita Personal Income in Oregon".

Monday, June 26, 2017

Oregon’s Multiple Jobholders in 2016

In 2016, 106,000 Oregonians held more than one job in addition to their primary job and were considered to be multiple jobholders. The multiple jobholding rate – the proportion of multiple jobholders among all employed workers – was 5.4 percent, which was slightly above the U.S. rate of 5.0 percent.

Multiple jobholding has generally become rarer in Oregon and the U.S. since 1995. Research shows that people are less likely to take on a second job than they were in the past. Oregon workers were more likely to hold more than one job at a time than our national counterparts, a trend dating back at least two decades. Oregon’s multiple jobholding rate has been higher than the U.S. every year since 1994, with the brief exception of 2004. The U.S. multiple jobholding rate stabilized at 4.9 percent from 2010 to 2015, before increasing slightly to 5.0 percent in 2016. Oregon’s rate climbed from 2009 through 2012 before falling to 5.4 percent in 2016.

Economic conditions certainly affect whether or not an individual works more than one job, but there is no clear association between the multiple jobholding rate and the business cycle. That is because fewer jobs are available during recessions, right when more people need a second job to help meet their expenses. During expansions, increased income and looser credit constraints mean fewer people need a second job to meet expenses. These factors seem to cancel each other out on the whole, which is why multiple jobholding rates don’t rise or fall significantly with the business cycle.

Learn more about Oregon's multiple jobholding rate in the full article "It Takes Two (or More): Oregon's Multiple Jobholders in 2016" written by state employment economist Nick Beleiciks.