Covered Employment and Wages in the Salem MSA (Marion and Polk Counties): 2017

by Pat O'Connor

June 1, 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.

In 2017, total covered employment for the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which is comprised of Marion and Polk counties, was about 172,400, up nearly 3,500 jobs from 168,900 in 2016. The annual average wage in the Salem MSA was $43,769 in 2017, less than the statewide average of $51,132. Marion County’s average annual wage in 2017 was $44,763 which ranked it eighth highest among Oregon’s 36 counties. Polk County’s average annual wage in 2017 was $36,302, ranking 30th among Oregon’s counties.

The Salem MSA’s average annual wage has consistently been less than the statewide average over the past 40 plus years. However, the gap has increased over the years. In 1976, Oregon’s average wage was a little less than 7 percent higher than the Salem MSA’s average. By 2000, the statewide average wage was 18 percent higher than in the Salem MSA. Following the “dot com” bubble burst, the wage gap between the Mid-Valley and the state narrowed slightly. However, that gap grew worse beginning in 2010 and continuing to 2015, when the statewide average wage was nearly 19 percent higher. That gap has narrowed the last two years. In 2017, the statewide average wage was a little less than 17 percent higher than the Salem MSA’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. 

The Salem MSA gained nearly 3,500 jobs from 2016 to 2017; gains of more than 3,300 in the private sector accounted for the majority of the growth, while the public sector grew slightly, adding less than 130 jobs. Employment gains and losses varied significantly by industry.
Trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,402) and construction (+750) added the most jobs during 2017. In the Salem MSA, information showed the fastest industry employment growth, growing 11 percent in 2017 and adding nearly 120 jobs.

Manufacturing showed modest employment growth in 2017, adding 55 jobs and growing 0.4 percent during the year.

Professional and business services added nearly 460 jobs in 2017 to grow 3.4 percent and outpace the overall private sector in the area.

Other services was one of two major sectors to show an employment decline in 2017; shedding more than 80 jobs in the Salem area.  

Natural resources and mining was the other major sector to show an employment decline in 2017, shedding more than 300 jobs or 2.8 percent. Natural resources and mining employment in the Salem area is dominated by agriculture, in particular crop production, and logging as well.   

The public sector as a whole showed 0.3 percent employment growth from 2016 to 2017, adding a little more than 100 jobs.

For more detailed industry employment and payroll data go to www.QualityInfo.org. Under “Economic Data” select “Employment and Wages by Industry”. Covered employment and payroll data is available for Oregon’s counties from 2001 to the present.

 


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