Characteristics of the Foreign-Born Population Working in Oregon

by Henry Fields

February 12, 2020

Roughly 10 percent (or 405,800) of Oregon’s population consists of people born outside the U.S. Of the foreign-born population in Oregon, roughly 387,000 are age 16 or older, and about 252,000 are employed. Foreign-born workers make up 13 percent of the state's civilian employed population. Almost half (43%) of Oregon's foreign-born population is native to Latin America, while 32 percent comes from Asia, another 15 percent is native to Europe, and 9 percent were born elsewhere outside the U.S.
Foreign-born workers tend to be more concentrated in the manufacturing industry as well as agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Nearly one out of 10 foreign-born workers can be found in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, or mining, and about one-fifth (17%) work in manufacturing. By comparison, 3 percent of the employed native-born population work in agriculture and related industries, and 11 percent work in manufacturing. Those born outside the U.S. are slightly less likely to be found in educational services or health care (18%) than Oregon workers born in the States (24%).

Foreign-Born Workers Tend to Earn Relatively Lower Wages

Oregon workers born outside the U.S. tend to be more concentrated in lower earnings categories than their U.S.-born counterparts. More than two-thirds (70%) of those born in the States and working full-time, year-round in Oregon earned $35,000 or more in the past 12 months. At the same time, only half of the state’s foreign-born workers earned at least $35,000 at full-time, year-round jobs.
Some of the earnings difference can be attributed to the industries where foreign-born and native-born workers tend to be employed. Oregon’s average wage in agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, and mining came in at $39,500 in 2018, while the wages in educational services and health care and social assistance averaged $51,700.

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