Covered Employment and Wages in Benton County: 2016

by Pat O'Connor

July 18, 2017

Covered employment or quarterly census of employment and wages (QCEW) data is obtained through employers’ payroll tax records. The universe for QCEW includes businesses whose employees are covered by unemployment insurance. QCEW provides more detailed industry employment and payroll data than the current employment statistics (CES) estimates which are released monthly.

In 2016, total covered employment for Benton County was 36,681; up more than 500 jobs from 36,156 in 2015. The annual average wage in Benton County was $48,841 in 2016, slightly less than the statewide average of $49,453.
Among Oregon’s 36 counties, Benton County’s average wage ranked 5th highest. Benton County’s average annual wage has struggled to keep pace with the statewide average in recent years. Beginning in 1983 and continuing until 2013, Benton County’s average annual wage was higher than the statewide average. The largest difference was in 1999, when Benton County’s average wage was 9.2 percent higher than the state. By 2010, Benton County’s average wage was only 3.3 percent higher than the Oregon’s average. In 2016, the statewide average wage was 1.3 percent higher than Benton County’s average. The biggest reason Benton County’s average wage has been moving towards the statewide average since the late 1990s is due to the loss of high paying jobs within the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing comprises a smaller share of Benton County’s economy today than it did in the late 1990s.

Employment Gains and Losses in 2016

The QCEW series provides us with the changes in employment and also allows us to see if those employment gains and losses are occurring in industries with high or low average wages. 

Benton County gained more than 500 jobs from 2015 to 2016; gains of nearly 400 in the private sector accounted for the majority of the growth, while the public sector grew at a similar rate and added nearly 150 jobs. Employment gains and losses varied significantly by industry.

Education and health services (+260 jobs) added the most jobs during 2016. Leisure and hospitality was close behind, adding nearly 230 jobs and growing 5.8 percent. Leisure and hospitality is Benton County’s sector with the lowest average wage. In 2016, the annual average wage in Benton County’s leisure and hospitality sector was just over $15,000, less than one-third of the county’s average wage. The construction sector showed the fastest growth in 2016, growing 7.1 percent and adding 65 jobs. Financial activities also showed rapid growth in 2016, growing 6.6 percent and adding nearly 70 jobs.

Manufacturing in Benton County showed the steepest employment loss, shedding 170 jobs in 2016 and declining 5.8 percent. Manufacturing is Benton County’s sector with the highest average wages; the annual average wage was nearly $78,512 in 2016. Natural resources and mining (-59 jobs) and information (-21) were the other two major sectors in Benton County that showed employment losses in 2016.
The public sector as a whole showed 1.5 percent employment growth from 2015 to 2016, adding nearly 150 jobs. The average wage in Benton County’s public sector is higher than the private sector average wage in the region.

For more detailed industry employment  and payroll data go to www.qualityinfo.org , click on “Employment and Labor Force” under “Data Tools” and then select “Covered Employment and Wages”. Covered employment and payroll data is available for Oregon’s counties from 2001 to the present.


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