20 Years in the Rearview Mirror: Columbia Basin 1995-2015April 6, 2016 Local Labor Trends publications may be ending, but the articles, analysis, and indicators will still be available through our website, QualityInfo.org. The economy of the Columbia Basin has certainly changed tremendously over the past 20 years, let's look back and see how far we've come!
Back in 1995, the Columbia Basin averaged close to 27,300 jobs, with an annual payroll of about $578 million. The most recent four-quarter average, ending in the third quarter of 2015, credited the Columbia Basin with just over 34,950 jobs and a four-quarter payroll total of $1.363 billion.
Employment grew by more than 7,600 jobs since 1995, a 20-year gain of 27.9 percent. Payrolls climbed by about $442 million inflation-adjusted, an increase of 48 percent. Wages averaged $39,020 over the four quarters ending in the third quarter of 2015. Looking back to 1995, covered pay averaged $33,714 in 2015 inflation-adjusted dollars, producing a real wage gain of $5,306, or 15.7 percent, over the span of about 20 years.
Umatilla County led the way, rising by close to 5,100 jobs or about 21 percent since 1995 to average 29,350 over the four quarters ending in the third quarter of 2015. Umatilla County's job growth represented about two-thirds of all jobs gained in the Columbia Basin region from 1995 to 2015.
Morrow County produced impressive job gains, rising by 81 percent, or 2,507 jobs, from 1995 to 2015 to average about 5,600. Morrow County represented just 11 percent of the region's jobs in 1995, but it also represented one out of three jobs gained in the Columbia Basin over the past 20 years. And because of that strong growth, in 2015 Morrow County represented 16 percent of the region's jobs.
Umatilla County also led the Columbia Basin's payroll growth with a CPI-adjusted gain of $301.8 million (+38%) from 1995 to 2015. Umatilla County represented just over two-thirds of the region's $442.1 million CPI-adjusted payroll increase. Average wages in Umatilla County rose in real terms by $4,590, or 14.0 percent, to $37,293.
Morrow County's covered payroll rose by $140.4 million in real terms, representing about 32 percent of the region's total payroll gain. Average wages rose by 15.4 percent, or $6,427 CPI-adjusted from 1995 to 2015, averaging $48,066.