Continued Job Growth Expected for Central Oregon

by Damon Runberg

June 17, 2016

Recovery from the Great Recession took nearly eight years in Central Oregon. The region was particularly hard hit due to the bursting of the housing bubble. The previous expansion was built on the back of the real estate market with a disproportionate share of job growth concentrated in the building and selling of homes. When the region recovered from the recession in 2015, we did so despite relatively few gains from construction. The region emerged more diverse. No longer leveraged into housing and real estate, instead tourism, health care, and the professional sector all make up a larger share of the economy. After several years of rapid population growth, particularly in Deschutes County, many are asking what's next for Central Oregon. Every two years, the Oregon Employment Department's Research Division calculates 10-year industry and occupational employment projections. The most recent projection cycle shows Central Oregon adding over 14,000 jobs to the tri-county area between 2014 and 2024, a growth of 16 percent.
Industry Projections

The private sector is expected to dominate job growth in the long-term adding around 94 percent of the 13,160 payroll jobs projected to be added by 2024. In fact, every private industry sector is expected to add jobs through 2024. Job gains are expected to be concentrated in four industries. Health care (+2,250) is expected to add more jobs than any other industry, which is highly influenced by the aging population.  Leisure and hospitality, which is largely tourism based jobs, is expected to add 2,240 jobs (+19%) by 2024. Professional and business services is forecast to add 1,730 jobs. Finally, construction is expected to add 1,500 jobs and be the region's fastest-growing private industry expanding by 32 percent. Despite being the fastest-growing industry, employment levels in construction are expected to remain considerably below levels from the 2006 housing boom. 

The public sector is expected to expand over the next 10 years, but at a much slower pace (+6%). The largest gains are forecast to be in the education sector with local education adding 370 jobs by 2024 and state education adding around 140 (+74%). Local education, predominately K-12, are expected to expand due to continued population growth. State education growth is linked to the new Oregon State University Cascades campus in Bend opening fall 2016.  

Occupational Projections

Central Oregon is expected to see over 35,000 new job openings by 2024. Of those, nearly 21,000 (60%) are replacement openings due to retirement or turnover. The remaining openings (14,200) are due to new or expanding businesses.
Occupations related to construction (29.2%); health care (21.9%); farming, fishing, and forestry (19.5%); and service (18.6%) top the list for fastest growing by 2024. The most job openings are projected to be in service occupations (9,200 openings), sales occupations (4,500 openings), and office and administrative support occupations (4,200 openings). It is fairly common for there to be a large number of openings in these occupations due to their large share of our employment base and relatively high rates of turnover, particularly in the service sector.

Service occupations accounted for a disproportionate share of growth openings. Service occupations represented around 21 percent of jobs in 2014, but accounted for 24 percent of the growth openings by 2024. We also expect to see disproportionate share of growth openings in construction related occupations as they accounted for around 5 percent of jobs in 2014, but are expected to represent around 10 percent of all growth openings. Office and administrative support occupations moved the opposite direction as that occupation group accounted for 15 percent of jobs in 2014, but is only expected to represent around 11 percent of the growth openings by 2024.

The fastest-growing occupation (with a minimum of 20 openings) by 2024 is projected to be physician assistants, growing by 55 percent (+63 openings). Other fast growing occupations include computer repairs, nurse practitioners, physical therapy aides, personal care aides, and web developers. Not surprisingly, the occupations with the most openings are retail salespersons (1,780 openings), waiters/ waitresses (1,600), cashiers (1,100), and registered nurses (820). A relatively high share of the openings for retail salespersons, waiter/ waitress, and cashiers are replacement openings due to the high turnover of these occupations.

Education requirements for the jobs of 2024 are expected to be little changed from 2014. Around 24 percent of jobs in Central Oregon require a Bachelor's degree or higher to be competitive for the position. That figure is projected to be unchanged by 2024. Occupations that require a doctoral degree are the fastest growing (+19%), largely due to the impact from OSU Cascades and the growth of the pharmaceutical industry. Occupations that require postsecondary training (non-degree), such as apprenticeships or certificates, are also expected to be fast growing with over 17 percent more jobs in 2024.
Regional Projections

Projections were estimated for 14 regions across the state. Central Oregon was forecast to have the fastest job growth by 2024, a growth of 16 percent (over 14,000 jobs). Over the previous 10 years (2005-2015) Central Oregon's employment base rose by over 11 percent, despite the impacts of the Great Recession.
The Portland Metro area is also expected to see strong job growth over the next 10 years with a growth rate of 15 percent. The fastest job growth is projected to be in regions with a metro area. Seven of the 14 regions across the state include a metro area; all of those regions are forecast to see rates of job growth at 9 percent or higher. Meanwhile, all but two of the seven regions without a metro area are expected to see growth rates at 7 percent of lower.

Employment projections for Central Oregon are available at Projections are listed under the broad East Cascades area.

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