Curry 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. Curry County lost about 220 payroll jobs from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter 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 Jackson 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 were food services and drinking places (-70); social assistance (-45), and ambulatory heath care services (-85). About 15 jobs were lost in amusement, gambling and recreation industries, construction of buildings, and health and personal care stores. As the top loss by far was in food services and drinking places industry, accounting for about one-third 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 at the broader sector level.  

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. The industries that show job gains over the year as of the first quarter 2001 were all impacted by some job losses early in the pandemic, but regained those jobs within a few months.
 Job Change by Industry Wage Level

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

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 industry sectors and their associated wages. 

Looking at the approximately 4,250 of 5,088 private-sector payroll jobs where we have published data at the 3-digit NAICS industry level, those were divided in close to thirds based on average wage per job, or average quarterly wages for the first quarter of 2021. Some industry employment is confidential and not published at the 3-digit level, especially in smaller economies such as Curry County.

From the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, Curry County industries that had average annual wage per job from between $18,984 to $23,512 (1st quarter wages annualized) employment declined by 86 jobs or -5.9%. Food services and drinking places as well as the amusement, gambling and recreation industry accounted for most losses among Curry County’s lower-wage industries.

The middle-wage group of industries, those with annualized annual pay between $23,780 and $45,724 lost 77 jobs during that time, or a decline of -5.1%. The greatest losses in this middle-wage group were in social assistance (-45), and health and personal care stores (-15).

The group of highest-wage industries, those with an average annual pay per job of $47,780 or more, saw an increase of 12 jobs, a gain of 0.8% over the year. Ambulatory health care services (+18), and professional and technical services (+18) job gains were offset by losses in construction of buildings (-16), and heavy and civil engineering construction (-5).

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