One reason for food manufacturing's steadiness over time is efficiency gains due to technological innovations. Computer-operated equipment can now picture, sort and grade food products in the blink of an eye - work that traditionally would have been completely done by hand using human senses. Food manufacturing is not alone in adopting new technologies to increase efficiency: technological innovations in recent decades allowed Oregon's wood product manufacturing sector to automate many functions and become a much more efficient industry, being able to maintain production levels while reducing labor input.
Food manufacturing has also been a steady industry in the long run. From 1990 to 2009, Oregon's manufacturing employment declined nearly 16 percent. During that same period of time, food manufacturing employment grew 1,000, or 4.2 percent.
Oregon's food manufacturing industry comprises a larger share of the state's total employment compared with the nation. Nationally, food manufacturing made up 1.1 percent of total nonfarm employment in 2012. In Oregon, the sector comprised 1.5 percent of total nonfarm employment. California is very well known for its agriculture industry, yet food manufacturing made up only 1.0 percent of California's total nonfarm employment in 2012.
Looking within food manufacturing, one of the big reasons why Oregon has a larger-than-average share of employment is the large presence of frozen food manufacturing (Graph 1). In the U.S., frozen food manufacturing comprises a little less than 6 percent of total food manufacturing employment. In Oregon, frozen food manufacturing comprised 27 percent of the state's total food manufacturing employment, which is more than four times the concentration found nationally.
Much of Oregon's frozen food manufacturing employment is located in the Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon, two areas with large concentrations of food manufacturing (Graph 2). In rural areas, food manufacturing makes up a larger percentage of total employment. Eastern Oregon accounts for 16 percent of the state's food processing employment even though it has less than 4 percent of the state's total private employment. The coastal counties of Oregon make up more than 8 percent of statewide food manufacturing employment while they comprise only 4 percent of Oregon's total private employment. The Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is the only metropolitan area in Oregon where food manufacturing comprises a larger-than-average percentage of total employment. Much of the frozen food manufacturing employment in the Willamette Valley is located in the Salem area.
The Portland area has the largest share of food manufacturing in Oregon with 37 percent of the state's total. Portland, however, makes up 55 percent of the state's total private employment, so food manufacturing is underrepresented in the Portland area compared with the statewide average. Although a significant amount of Portland's food manufacturing sector produces products that are sold out of state, a larger percentage of the products produced in Portland are sold within Oregon compared with a rural area like Eastern Oregon. In Eastern Oregon, the vast majority of the frozen food manufactured is sold and consumed outside of Oregon.
Table 1 displays the 10 largest occupations within Oregon's food manufacturing sector. It shouldn't be a surprise to see that the large occupations within the industry are growing at close to 10 percent - the same percentage food manufacturing is expected to grow from 2010 to 2020. Until recently, job openings due to growth have been a fairly small piece of the puzzle regarding total job openings in the manufacturing sector. For some time, replacement openings have provided the bulk of job openings in Oregon's manufacturing sector. Food manufacturing follows that trend. From 2010 to 2020, Oregon's manufacturing sector is projected to have 62,618 total job openings; 37,478 of those job openings will be replacement openings and the remaining 25,140 openings will be due to growth.
The reason growth openings will comprise 40 percent of the total openings in manufacturing is once again due to the steep employment losses the sector experienced in 2008 and 2009. Since food manufacturing didn't experience steep employment losses in 2008 and 2009, a smaller share of their total openings will come from growth openings and a larger share will be due to replacement openings.
|Oregon Food Manufacturing Projections for Largest Occupations, 2010-2020|
|2010 Employment||2020 Employment||Percent Growth||2010 Occupational Percent of Total Industry||
Industry Percent of Total Occupation
|Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders||3,289||3,610||9.8%||14%||62%|
|Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand||961||1,051||9.4%||4%||4%|
|Production Workers, All Other||910||998||9.7%||4%||14%|
|Supervisors and Managers of Production and Operating Workers||873||956||9.5%||4%||12%|
|Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products||865||945||9.2%||4%||33%|
|Food Mixing and Blending Machine Operators and Tenders||782||859||9.8%||3%||78%|
|Machine Feeders and Offbearers||757||827||9.2%||3%||16%|
|Fork Lift, Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators||726||794||9.4%||3%||8%|
|Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers||636||698||9.7%||3%||13%|
Manufacturing has traditionally been a male-dominated industry in terms of employment. Oregon's private sector has 47 percent female workers. In Oregon's manufacturing sector, about 27 percent of the workforce is female (Table 2). Food manufacturing's workforce is nearly 41 percent female, less than the average across the private sector, but a dramatically larger percentage than the overall manufacturing sector. Food manufacturing comprised 15 percent of total manufacturing in Oregon during the fourth quarter of 2012, yet it employed 23 percent of all females in the manufacturing sector.
|Oregon Employment by Industry and Sex|
|Fourth Quarter 2012|
|Source: U.S. Census Bureau, LED|
One of the reasons food manufacturing's wages are relatively low compared with the rest of manufacturing has to do with the occupational mix of jobs within the industry, and the skills those jobs require. Out of the ten largest occupations within food manufacturing, none require any postsecondary training, they all require on-the-job training or related work experience. Typically, jobs that require less training and education pay lower wages than occupations requiring more training and education.
Table 3 shows that 7.8 percent of workers in food manufacturing are paid at or near minimum wage, a lower share than is seen across all industries. Only 2.5 percent of workers in Oregon's manufacturing sector have hourly wages at or near minimum wage. Within food manufacturing more than six out of 10 jobs (61.8%) pay an hourly wage of less than $15. Across all industries, 43.9 percent of jobs pay less than $15 an hour. Overall, in Oregon's manufacturing sector three out of 10 jobs pay less than $15 an hour.
|Oregon - Fraction of Jobs by Industry by Hourly Wage Level - 3rd Quarter 2012*|
|Under $9.00||$9.00 - $9.99||$10.00 - $14.99||$15.00 - $19.99||$20.00 - $29.99||$30.00 - $39.99||$40.00 - $49.99||$50.00 - $59.99||$60.00 or more||Total|
|Total - All Industries||9.0%||9.5%||25.5%||15.7%||17.6%||8.9%||5.3%||3.0%||5.5%||100.0%|
|* Count of records. Individuals holding multiple jobs will be counted more than once.|
|Records meeting the following conditions have been excluded from this analysis:|
|0 (zero) hours reported|
|999 hours reported|
|wages < $7.25/hr calculated|
|wages > $500/hr calculated and < 10 hours reported|
|Source: Unemployment Insurance Wage Records|
The industry provides a conduit where Oregon's agricultural crops are processed and exported outside of Oregon, becoming an important and stable part of Oregon's traded-sector economy.