Coos County Employment Change First Quarter 2020 to First Quarter 2021

by Guy Tauer

August 19, 2021

Data from the Quarterly Census and Employment and Wages (QCEW) program provides detail regarding change in total payroll, business units, average wage per job, and employment at the county level. Data for the first quarter of 2021 was recently released and this confirmed what our monthly estimates have shown. Coos County lost about 1,160 payroll jobs from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. However, this was still an improvement from the pandemic low during the second quarter of 2020. Our monthly employment estimates usually provide data at the broad industry or sector detail such as “construction”. Data from the QCEW program publishes data typically to the 3-digit North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) level of industry detail. For example, within the construction industry, detail for Coos County is available for construction of buildings, heavy and civil engineering construction, and specialty trade contractors.

These more detailed data available through March 2021 show that that largest losses over the year at the 3-digit NAICS level occurred in food services and drinking places (-339); social assistance (-98); and ambulatory heath care services (-85). About 40 jobs were lost in membership organizations and associations, accommodations, and agriculture and forestry support services. As the top loss was in the food services and drinking places industry, accounting for about 30% of all losses, it’s easy to see why leisure and hospitality accounted for the largest share of total payroll employment job losses over the year.
Some industries were less impacted by the pandemic and showed either less job loss, or in some cases their employment rose right through the pandemic. Those that defied the pandemic’s employment gravity included food and beverage stores and couriers and messengers, which added jobs over the year. A few other sectors were only impacted during the worst months of the pandemic, at least employment-wise, and so farhave resumed adding jobs over the year through the first quarter of 2021. Some of those included private educational services, professional and technical services, and general merchandise stores.
Being able to look at more detailed industries gives us more insight into what sectors are performing differently below the surface of the monthly published sector level. Now we’ll look at a few of those sectors showing mixed trends at the detailed industry level.

Natural resources and mining: Coos County added about 20 jobs in both forestry and logging, and crop production. Those gains were offset by about 40 fewer jobs in agriculture and forestry support activity.

Construction: Construction fell just slightly over the year with about 15 fewer jobs in construction of buildings and about 10 fewer in heavy and civil engineering.

Manufacturing: This goods-producing sector had mixed trends with food manufacturing losing 13 jobs. wood products employment gained just five jobs over the year.

Retail trade: Offsetting the gains shown above in food and beverage stores and general merchandise stores, there were losses in electronics and appliance stores (-25); gasoline stations (-19); and furniture and home furnishing stores (-14).

Transportation: This critical group of industries wound up with a slight decline over the year, with losses in support activities for transportation (-24) and truck transportation (-7) offset by a gain of 15 jobs in couriers and messengers.

Private educational and health services: Job losses occurred over the year in social assistance (-98); ambulatory health services (-85); and nursing and residential care facilities (-22), while 38 jobs were added in private educational services.

Job Change by Industry Wage Level

Statewide analysis has shown that the pandemic impacted lower-wage industries more than medium- or high-wage industries during the COVID-19 pandemic and so far in the recovery. The most recent Economic and Revenue Forecast from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis notes:

The pandemic recession is different. Low-wage service workers have borne the brunt of the lost jobs. Both food preparation, and personal care (barbershops and nail salons) lost nearly 20% of their jobs last year. Middle-wage jobs suffered an average recession instead of a severe one, while high-wage job growth slowed, but did not decline outright.

Given the middle-wage job outlook has called for only moderate gains during expansions, one of the more concerning parts to the COVID recession was that it hammered the low-wage jobs. A lot of times workers struggled to adjust when they lose their traditional, middle-wage job. While a few are able to land high-wage jobs, the vast majority end up taking a low-wage job, moving away in search of work, or dropping out of the labor force entirely. None of this is a good dynamic

We can look at change in employment by average industry wage as one way to measure the effect of the pandemic on different industries and their associated wages. 

The approximately 16,500 private-sector payroll jobs for which we have published data at the 3-digit NAICS industry level were divided roughly into thirds based on average wage per job for the first quarter of 2021.

From the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, employment declined by 6.4% across Coos County industries that had an average annual wage per job between $16,676 and $27,880 (1st quarter wages annualized). Food services and drinking places losses accounted for four out of five jobs lost among Coos County’s lower-wage industries. Social assistance (-98) and membership organizations and associations (-42) also lost jobs in this lower-wage group of industries.

The middle-wage group of industries, those with annualized pay between $28,844 and $46,948, lost 113 jobs during that time, or a decline of 2.2%. The greatest losses in this middle-wage group were in accommodations, and agriculture and forestry support activity, both down by about 40 jobs. Private educational services (+38); couriers and messengers (+15); and rental and leasing services (+12) added a few jobs in Coos County over the year.

The group of higher-wage industries, those with average annual pay per job of $47,860 or more, saw a decline of 109 jobs, a loss of 2.0% over the year. Ambulatory health care services (-85); support activities for transportation (-24); and a few other smaller declines were slightly countered by gains in professional and technical services (+25) and forestry and logging (+20).

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