Central Oregon’s Projected Employment Growth Is the Highest in the State

by Kale Donnelly

November 10, 2020

As Oregon continues on with its economic recovery, the state’s counties have experienced different economic impacts since the onset of COVID-19. Total nonfarm job losses brought on by COVID restrictions ranged anywhere from 25 percent (Clatsop County) to no jobs lost at all (Gilliam County). Economic recoveries are underway, but what will the years ahead look like? With the help of our regional projections, we have an idea of what job growth might look like through 2029.

With the latest industry and occupational projections available, we see that Central Oregon is yet again the region projected to grow at the fastest rate in the state.
With a projected 12 percent increase in jobs from 2019 to 2029, Central Oregon tops the list. The Portland Tri-County area is a close second. This rate of projected growth is slower than the region’s growth over the previous decade (+20.5%), but is still strong considering the job deficit caused by the initial impacts of COVID-19. Also worth noting, the initial COVID-19 impacts and subsequent job losses are incorporated into these projections.

The projected growth differs among not only the regions in Oregon, but also the industries in each region. Damon Runberg, Regional Economist, has already provided a fantastic detailing of Central Oregon’s industry projections.

But, what about the next few years? When will Oregon recover to its pre-COVID employment levels? Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis has released a revised economic forecast that helps answer that question. They forecast a full recovery mid-to-late 2023. The OEA also runs through some alternative scenarios for economic recovery (page 13) including: if a vaccine is made widely available; a prolonged lack of federal assistance persists; or another surge in cases occurs.

All said, Oregon and its regions are on their track to recovery from the initial job losses of the pandemic-driven recession.


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