Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Power to the People – Oregon’s Utilities Industry

Oregon's utilities industry is unusual in several ways. It is small, high-paying, and has a significant public-sector component. Utility companies are often described by economists as being natural monopolies. This is an important concept in the discussion of the utilities industry, essentially meaning that it makes sense for only one utility company to operate in an area.

Compared with other industries in 2014, it was second only to mining for the fewest number of enterprises (470) and employees (8,700). Its annual average wage of $82,728 was second only to the $109,800 paid by the management of companies and enterprises industry. Excluding general government itself, utilities had the second-largest share (48%) of public-sector employment of all Oregon industries. Only educational services (public schools) had a larger share (89%).

Key figures for Oregon's utilities industry:
  • The utilities industry is split into three mains sub-industries: electric power (5,100 jobs), natural gas distribution (1,200 jobs), and water and sewage (2,500).
  • Electronic power-line installers and repairers were the most common occupation in the industry. There were 460 of them in 2014, and then made an average wage of $42.15.
  • Customer service representatives were the second most common (330 jobs, average wage of $21.64).
To learn more about natural monopolies and Oregon's utilities industry, read Regional Economist Erik Knoder's article: Power to the People – Oregon’s Utilities Industry.

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