Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Diversity of Oregon’s Industries

The racial and ethnic diversity of Oregon’s total nonfarm employment pales in comparison with the United States. The private sector of the U.S. in 2019 was comprised of a more racially diverse set of workers, with 24 percent non-white employment compared with Oregon’s 14 percent. Moreover, the ethnic diversity of the U.S. is more robust than Oregon – 17 percent of private employment is held by Hispanic or Latino workers compared with Oregon’s 13 percent share among the cohort. These metrics are almost entirely due to the demographical makeup of our state’s population. Still, even with somewhat limited diversity in Oregon’s total nonfarm employment, it’s worth observing which industries are most diverse, and examining how diversity by industry could potentially lend itself to an inequitable recovery following the initial impacts of COVID-19.


For this analysis’ definition of diversity, we’re looking at the industries with the greatest shares of people of color on average in 2019. Some of Oregon’s most racially diverse industries include accommodation and food services (17.1% share of people of color), manufacturing (16.6%), management of companies and enterprises (15.5%), administrative and waste services (14.4%), and health care and social assistance (14.2%).

The least racially diverse industries are the ones with the least representation of all races. In other words, the industries that have the greatest shares of white employment. These industries include educational services (89.3% white); real estate and rental and leasing (89.3% white); construction (91.7% white); utilities (92.0% white); and mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (94.4% white).


Looking at the ethnic diversity of Oregon’s industries, we see a similar trend in many industries for their lack of diversity, but others make some significant shifts. Comparing which industries have a higher share of Hispanic or Latino employment, we see that some are significantly more diverse than others.

The industries with the greatest share of ethnic diversity include agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (33.5% Hispanic or Latino employment); accommodation and food services (17.1%); administrative and waste services (15.9%); manufacturing (15.4%); and construction (13.1%). One important detail to note is that most agricultural employment is not captured in our traditional employment metrics since the majority of the industry’s employment isn’t covered by unemployment insurance. Therefore, the share of diverse employment in agriculture is likely understated in these graphs since they only capture a fraction of overall industry employment in the state.

Job Recoveries in the Most Diverse Industries

Unfortunately, the industry that is the most racially diverse, and the second most ethnically diverse, is having a difficult time recovering after the initial COVID-19 impacts. Accommodation and food services shed more than half of its jobs in the initial months of COVID-19, and is still down 21 percent from its February employment levels as of October. As restaurant employers in this industry have been able to move part of their operations outside during the warm summer months, this allowed them to increase their patronage and keep staff on payroll. As the colder months of winter roll into Oregon, the harsh weather likely won’t allow restaurant owners to comfortably accommodate outdoor dining. This second blow to the restaurant industry will further hamper the accommodation and food industry’s ability to quickly recover the jobs it shed between March and April.

To learn more, read Workforce Analyst Kale Donnelly's full article here.

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