Covered Employment and Wages in Benton County: 2017

by Pat O'Connor

June 7, 2018

Covered employment or quarterly census of employment and wages (QCEW) data is obtained through employer’s 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) employment estimates which are released monthly.

In 2017, total covered employment for Benton County was 37,643; an increase of more than 1,000 jobs from 36,571 in 2016. The annual average wage in Benton County was $50,078 in 2017, slightly less than the statewide average of $51,132.
Among Oregon’s 36 counties, Benton County’s average wage ranked fifth 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. 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. In 1999, Benton County’s average wage was 9.2 percent higher than the statewide average. By 2010, Benton County’s average wage was only 3.3 percent higher than Oregon’s average. In 2017, the statewide average wage was 2.1 percent higher than Benton County’s average.

Employment Gains and Losses in 2017

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 1,000 jobs from 2016 to 2017; gains of more than 1,000 in the private sector accounted for the majority of the growth, while the public sector grew very slightly, added only 53 jobs. Employment gains and losses varied significantly by industry.
Professional and business services (+282 jobs) added the most jobs during 2017, growing 6.6 percent. Education and health services was close behind, adding more than 220 jobs and growing 3.5 percent. The construction sector showed the fastest growth in 2017, growing 10.8 percent and adding 107 jobs. Trade, transportation, and utilities also showed rapid growth in 2017, growing 5.0 percent and adding nearly 220 jobs.

After a number of years of showing declining employment, manufacturing in Benton County showed employment growth of nearly 120 jobs in 2017, growing 4.4 percent. Manufacturing is Benton County’s sector with the highest average wages. The annual average wage was more than $80,000 in 2017.

Other services was the only sector that shed jobs in 2017, losing nearly 20 jobs or 1.1 percent.

The public sector as a whole showed 0.6 percent employment growth from 2016 to 2017, adding 53 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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