Columbia Gorge Occupational Projections: 2019-2029

by Dallas Fridley

December 15, 2020

Employment in the Columbia Gorge is expected to grow by 8.7% over the decade, climbing by 2,649 jobs to total 32,962 in 2029. The Columbia Gorge 2019-2029 occupational projection provides estimated growth for about 190 occupations. In addition to occupational job growth, the projection includes estimates for replacement openings along with educational requirements (typical entry-level and competitive).


Occupational openings due to growth, caused by a new business opening or an existing business expanding, will create 2,649 jobs in the Columbia Gorge through 2029. However, the vast majority of occupational job openings, 39,860 or 94%, 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 fill about 42,500 openings over 2019-2029.
Health care occupations are projected to lead the Columbia Gorge, rising by 13% over the decade. Growth openings are expected to create about 260 health care jobs. Replacement need will open up around 1,710 jobs over 2019-2019 or about 87% of all health care openings.

Service occupations, like corrections officers, restaurant cooks, janitors, and gaming dealers, will have 12,102 openings, of which 11,277 are for replacement, with 825 credited to growth. Service occupations are expected to grow above the Columbia Gorge average, at 12.1%.

Professional and related occupations, like computer programmers, industrial engineers, and teachers, are also expected to have above average growth over 2019-2029, rising by 11.1%. Future openings due to growth are projected to bring 361 new jobs to the Columbia Gorge, while replacement need will open up about 3,220 (90% of total openings).

Construction and extraction occupations are expected to grow at a higher than average rate of 10.4%, with 1,602 total openings. About 130 construction and extraction openings are credited to growth (8%) with around 1,470 required for replacement (92%).

Management, business, and financial occupations are expected to grow above average, at 9.6%. Growth openings will produce 243 jobs or around 9% of total openings. Replacement need in the management, business, and financial group will open up an additional 2,391 jobs.

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations are projected to grow by 8.7%, adding 89 jobs over 2019-2029 to total 1,107. Replacement openings represent about 92% of its total openings.

Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations are expected to grow by 8.3% – just below the 8.7% increase for all occupations. It’s a large group, ranking second to service occupations for employment in 2019, and its growth through 2029 translates to 285 new jobs. Most of the group’s future openings, 95%, are expected for replacement need. Overall the group is projected to have nearly 6,100 job openings.

The production group is smaller than most, with 1,668 jobs in 2019. The production group is expected to grow slightly below average, with an 8.1% increase over 2019-2029. Openings due to growth will provide 135 new jobs, while replacement need will open up an additional 2,060.

Transportation and material moving occupations are projected to perform slightly below average, creating about 160 jobs, an increase of 8%. Bus drivers, truck drivers, and fork lift operators are examples of occupations found in this group. Transportation and material moving occupations are projected to have 2,767 total openings – of which 2,611 (94%) are expected for replacement.

Sales and related occupations are expected to grow by just 4.6% over the decade. Despite the below average growth projection, the group is expected to have 4,262 total openings, with the vast majority (97%) for replacement need.

Office and administrative support occupations are projected to grow slowly, at just 1.2%. Growth openings will add an additional 41 jobs, increasing the group’s 2029 employment to 3,362. With 99% of office and administrative support’s openings due to replacement need, the group with have 3,940 total openings over 2019-2029.


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 13% of the total projected Columbia Gorge occupational job openings require a college degree at the entry level. The majority of openings will require related work experience or offer training while on the job. On-the-job 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 also the education level that students are recommended to acquire to help them be competitive throughout their career. At the competitive level, 22% of occupational openings require a college degree, 23% require some postsecondary training, such as a certificate, and the remaining 55% require a high school diploma or equivalent.

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