Like most sectors, high tech saw significant employment losses during the Great Recession. Employment peaked at 92,844 in July 2008 and began rapidly declining, reaching a trough of 82,844 in November 2009. From peak to trough, the industry shed 10,000 jobs or 11 percent of its workforce. By contrast, total employment across all industries during the same period declined by 7 percent. Fortunately, the industry has rebounded significantly since, although employment is still below pre-recession levels (Graph 1).
Prior to 2013, the Oregon Employment Department (OED) defined high tech using three specific computer-related industry codes: computer and electronic product manufacturing; systems design and related services; and software publishing.
In 2013, OED decided to change its definition to include a broader array of industries in which high-tech occupations are highly concentrated. As such, its newer high-tech definition is a better, more comprehensive view of industries that produce innovative, technologically advanced products and services. The 14 industries comprising this new definition are listed in Table 1. This definition also corresponds to ones currently used nationally by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|High Tech Covered Employment and Wages in Oregon|
|Industry Sector||2012 Employment||Employment Change from 2011 (%)||2012 Covered Payroll||2012 Annual Average Wage|
|Total high-tech employment||88,934||2.7%||$8,363,672,179||$94,044|
|Semiconductor and electronic component mfg.||27,917||2.1%||$3,473,011,615||$124,405|
|Architectural and engineering services||12,794||1.8%||$887,905,254||$69,400|
|Computer systems design and related services||11,955||9.1%||$1,065,557,438||$89,131|
|Wired telecommunications carriers||5,820||0.2%||$367,907,121||$63,214|
|Electronic instrument mfg.||5,197||3.0%||$440,318,113||$84,725|
|Scientific research and development services||3,824||-0.2%||$306,135,519||$80,056|
|Data processing, hosting, and related services||3,665||-2.3%||$335,822,381||$91,630|
|Aerospace product and parts mfg.||3,122||5.4%||$231,075,374||$74,015|
|Computer and peripheral equipment mfg.||2,692||-7.4%||$235,746,016||$87,573|
|Pharmaceutical and medicine mfg.||875||-2.9%||$40,597,443||$46,397|
|Internet publishing and web search portals||794||9.4%||$61,527,112||$77,490|
|Communications equipment mfg.||593||1.7%||$41,156,929||$69,405|
High-tech firms are found all over the state although they are most concentrated in its largest metropolitan areas: Portland, Eugene, Medford, and Bend. They also have a presence along the Oregon coast, the Interstate 5 corridor, and in northeastern Oregon near Interstate 84.Broadly speaking, high-tech employment is disproportionally male. Males account for 71 percent of employment and females just 29 percent compared with 54 percent and 46 percent, respectively, across all industries (Graph 2). This reflects national trends. High-tech workers are also more likely to be of "prime working age," which is generally defined as ages 25 to 54. More than three-quarters (77%) fall into this age group, compared with 67 percent of workers across all industries. Younger workers (ages 14-24) are not as common, probably due to the years of training it takes to enter the industry. Older workers (ages 55+) represent 19 percent of high-tech employment, compared with 21 percent across all industries (Graph 3).
Wages also vary across the occupational spectrum. When looking at the industry's leading occupations, average wages are highest for engineering managers ($134,297), computer and information systems managers ($112,287), and electronics engineers ($103,949). Wages are lowest for the industry's customer service representatives ($34,089), semiconductor processors ($33,698), and electrical and electronic equipment assemblers ($31,724). In high tech, as with other industries in general, higher-wage jobs require a higher level of educational attainment (Table 2). More than one-third (38%) of all jobs in the high-tech industry typically require a bachelor's degree or higher for entry.
|Statewide Employment in High Tech* - Most Common Occupations|
|Standard Occupational Code Title||
|2013 Average Annual Wage||
Needed for Entry
|Computer Hardware Engineers||2,573||NA||Bachelor's degree|
|Engineering Managers||1,814||$134,297||Bachelor's degree|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||1,336||$112,287||Bachelor's degree|
|Electronics Engineers, Except Computer||2,566||$103,949||Bachelor's degree|
|Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software||1,086||$99,790||Bachelor's degree|
|General and Operations Managers||1,304||$97,943||Bachelor's degree|
|Engineers, All Other||1,202||$94,731||Bachelor's degree|
|Industrial Engineers||1,216||$93,818||Bachelor's degree|
|Computer Software Engineers, Applications||5,954||$88,501||Bachelor's degree|
|Civil Engineers||1,510||$80,374||Bachelor's degree|
|Computer Programmers||1,572||$71,676||Bachelor's degree|
|Architects, Except Landscape and Naval||1,339||$71,222||Bachelor's degree|
|Business Operations Specialists, All Other||1,605||$61,908||Bachelor's degree|
|Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians||2,065||$59,066||Associate's degree|
|Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers, Except Line Installers||1,541||$57,922||Postsecondary non-degree award|
|Computer Support Specialists||2,253||$52,312||Postsecondary non-degree award|
|Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||1,216||$49,178||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Customer Service Representatives||1,696||$34,089||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Semiconductor Processors||2,108||$33,698||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Electrical and Electronic Equipment Assemblers||5,194||$31,724||High school diploma or equivalent|
|* Excludes NAICS 51913 (Internet publishing and web search portals)|
In terms of total job openings between 2010 and 2020, high tech is projected to have more jobs created through growth (47%) than the average across all occupations (41%). The rest (53%) are projected to come through replacement openings.
Regardless of the losses suffered during the last (and other) recessions, high tech's dominant presence will continue to enhance Oregon's ability to compete and succeed, both locally and globally.