Aging Workforce by Occupation in Oregon

by Gail Krumenauer

August 1, 2019

The Minnesota Population Center maintains public use microdata for the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which includes information on the age of workers by occupation in Oregon. According to the 2013-2017 five-year estimates (the most current available), about 22 percent of all employed workers in Oregon’s labor force were at least 55 years old. These workers may have an eye on retirement in the near future.

Clocking Out

Lawyers, managers, and doctors may be among the occupations where workers have a greater likelihood of nearing retirement. They fall in the top three broad occupational groups with the largest shares of jobs held by workers at least 55 years old. Legal occupations claimed the largest portion (29%), followed by jobs in business, science, or arts management (27%), and healthcare practitioners (26%).

The legal occupations mostly consist of lawyers and legal assistants. Both lawyers and judges were among the occupations in this group with higher shares of workers at least 55 years old. Among the many occupations in management related to business, science, or the arts, those with the largest shares of jobs with workers ages 55 or older included farm and ranch managers, chief executives, and property and real estate managers. Among healthcare practitioners, more than one-third of registered nurses and related nurses were at least 55, as well as the group of health diagnosing and treating practitioners that included acupuncturists and naturopaths.

In addition to healthcare practitioners, two other occupational groups had 26 percent of all jobs held by workers 55 years or older. The first was community and social service; among this group of occupations, clergy and religious directors had even larger shares of workers ages 55 and older. The other group was the combined education, training, and library occupations. Those working as archivists, curators, museum technicians, librarians, and library technicians were more likely to be at least 55 years old.

Future Workforce Needs

This scan of professions in groups with the largest shares of workers ages 55 and older yields a list of 17 occupations. These occupations typically require education beyond high school; all but three require at least a bachelor’s degree to meet the minimum qualifications for jobs.

From 2017 to 2027, statewide projections show a net gain of 10,200 jobs in these occupations. An additional 47,100 openings will require newly trained workers to replace those who leave the labor force (largely due to retirement) or make a major occupational change. Among this set of occupations, those with the most total openings in Oregon include registered nurses, farming and ranching managers, clergy, and lawyers. Meanwhile, the fastest-growing occupations in this group are health-centered, including nurse practitioners, health diagnosing and treating practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and midwives.

This targeted set of occupations represents a small slice (2%) of the 2.6 million total openings across Oregon by 2027. More information about statewide and regional employment projections can be found on the projections page at

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