Government Employment in Eastern Oregon

by Tony Wendel

January 4, 2019

If we consider government in all its forms (federal, state, and local) as a single industry, it is the largest industry of employment in Eastern Oregon. This is not uncommon for rural areas where economic diversity is not as great as in urban areas. According to the Oregon Employment Department’s Employment and Wages by Industry (QCEW) data for 2017, government accounted for 24.2 percent of the employment and 28.9 percent of the wages for the eight counties comprising Eastern Oregon. Statewide, by comparison, government was responsible for 15.2 percent of employment and 16.3 percent of wages.

Looking at the eight counties individually, Harney and Grant counties had the highest percentages of employment in government, at 43.6 percent and 41.3 percent, respectively. Morrow County was on the low end with government only accounting for 17.1 percent of employment, much closer to the statewide percentage. This is most likely due to the growth that has taken place at the Port of Morrow in private industry. Government accounted for a whopping 55.1 percent of wages in Harney County, followed by 51.7 percent in Grant County. Again, Morrow County came in the lowest, at 15.6 percent. Morrow County was the only county where government accounted for a lower percentage of wages than employment.

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