Big and Small Private Industries in Northwest Oregon

by Erik Knoder

March 1, 2019

The single biggest private-sector industry by employment in Northwest Oregon is full-service restaurants. This industry had 6,285 employees on average during 2017, the most recent full year of data available. Full-service restaurants are part of the leisure and hospitality sector, which dominates the coastal counties. Northwest Oregon consists of Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, and Tillamook counties. The employment numbers cited here count workers covered by unemployment insurance.

The second-largest private-sector industry in the region is general medical and surgical hospitals with 4,488 employees in 2017. Hospitals are different from full-service restaurants in many ways, including average size. It took only nine hospitals to generate 4,488 jobs (average size 499 employees) versus 406 restaurant establishments to provide 6,285 jobs (average size 15 employees).

The third- and fourth-largest private industries were also from the leisure and hospitality sector. Hotels and motels took the number three spot with 3,360 employees and limited-service restaurants was number four with 2,903 employees in 2017.

At the other end of the scale there were 32 industries so small that they had only one employee on average in 2017. This also makes them unpublishable in order to protect their confidentiality. But we can note that although they were from a variety of major sectors, a notable number were from wholesale trade and finance and insurance. These sectors have two things in common in Northwest Oregon: the mostly rural region is not a hub or center for either major sector, and both sectors use largely independent sales agents.

A final observation about the large industries in Northwest Oregon is the absence of manufacturing industries among the top tier of employers and the dominance of service industries. The largest manufacturing industry is in the number seven spot. It is also confidential. Northwest Oregon has an economy dominated by service industries, and this is reflected in a quick look at who’s on top.

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