Columbia Gorge Occupational Forecast: 2017-2027

by Dallas Fridley

August 10, 2018

Employment in the Columbia Gorge is expected to grow by 11 percent over the decade, climbing by 3,367 jobs to total 33,933 in 2027. The Columbia Gorge occupational forecast provides estimated growth for about 180 occupations (2017-2027). In addition to occupational job growth, the forecast includes estimates for replacement openings along with typical entry-level and competitive educational requirements.


From 2007 to 2017, total covered employment in the Columbia Gorge climbed by just over 13 percent, translating to about 3,200 new jobs. Occupational openings due to growth, caused by a new business opening or an existing business expanding, will create around 3,400 jobs through 2027. However, the vast majority of occupational job openings, about 38,300, are needed to replace workers who leave their occupation. They could leave for a variety of reasons, including retirement. Whether it is due to economic expansion, workers leaving their occupation for another, or workers leaving the labor force altogether, each opening creates an opportunity for another qualified worker. In all, the Columbia Gorge will need to fill nearly 41,700 openings between 2017 and 2027.
Construction and extraction occupations, which are dominated by building trades, are forecast to grow by 20.8 percent over the decade. Residential construction activity is expected to gain momentum with openings due to growth creating about 250 jobs. Replacement needs will create around 1,300 openings between 2017 and 2017 or about 84 percent of all construction and extraction job openings.

Service occupations, like corrections officers, restaurant cooks, janitors and gaming dealers, will have 11,384 openings, of which 10,447 are for replacement, with 937 due to growth. Service occupations are expected to grow above the Columbia Gorge average, at 14.6 percent.

Health care is expected to be grow at a higher than average rate of 14.4 percent, with 1,807 total openings. Nearly 300 health care openings will come from growth (16%) with just over 1,500 for replacement (84%).

Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations are expected to grow by 6.4 percent – well below the 11 percent increase for all occupations. It’s a large group, however, ranking second to service occupations for employment in 2017, and its growth through 2027 translates to 227 new jobs. Most of the group’s future openings, 96 percent, are expected for replacement needs. Overall the group is projected to have more than 5,600 job openings.

Slow growth in office and administrative support occupations, at just 5.2 percent, is expected to produce an additional 164 jobs, increasing the groups 2027 total to 3,315. With 96 percent of office and administrative supports openings due to replacement need, the group with have 3,750 total openings between 2017 and 2027.

Professional and related occupations, like computer programmers, industrial engineers and teachers, is also expected to have below average growth between 2017 and 2027, rising by 8.9 percent. Future openings due to growth are projected to bring nearly 300 new jobs to the Columbia Gorge, while replacement needs will open up about 3,000 (91%).

Transportation and material moving occupations are projected to perform above average, creating about 266 jobs, an increase of 12.7 percent. Bus drivers, truck drivers, and fork lift operators are examples of occupations found in this group, with 3,027 total openings – of which 2,761 (91%) are expected for replacement.

Sales and related occupations are expected to grow by 9.5 percent over the decade. Despite the below average growth projection, the group is expected to have 4,863 total openings, with the vast majority (94%) for replacement needs.

Management, business and financial occupations are expected to grow above average, at 12.3 percent. A greater share of the groups future openings, 349 jobs or 13 percent, are due to growth, with nearly 2,400 for replacement needs.

The production group is smaller than most, with 1,563 jobs in 2017. The production group is expected to grow just above average, with an 11.8 percent increase over 2017 and 2027. Openings due to growth will provide 184 new jobs, while openings due to replacement will open up an additional 1,878.

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations are forecast to grow by just 8.2 percent, adding 92 jobs between 2017 and 2027 to total 1,212. Replacement openings represent about 92 percent of its total openings.


Employment Department analysts reviewed each occupation and determined the most common education level sought by employers hiring workers. This level is obviously not set in stone. It varies by employer and the state of the economy, among other factors. Higher education and training levels are generally required of job seekers when the economy is in a downturn and it is an “employer’s market,” while lower levels are generally required when the economy is expanding.
Just 11.4 percent of all projected occupational openings require a college degree. The majority of openings will require related work experience or offer training while on the job. This training may last for a few days or several months until the worker learns the required duties.

Analysts also looked at the education and training levels that generally make individuals more competitive in the job market. This is the education level that students are recommended to acquire to help them be competitive throughout their career. At the competitive level, 18.1 percent of occupational openings require a college degree, 16.7 percent require some postsecondary training, such as a certificate, and the remaining 65.2 percent require a high school diploma or equivalent.


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