Government Employment in Southwestern Oregon

by Carlos Diaz

September 19, 2023

If we consider government at all levels (federal, state, and local) as a collective industry, it is one of the largest industries of employment in Southwestern Oregon. This is not uncommon for rural areas where economic diversity is generally lower compared with urban areas. According to 2022 data from the Oregon Employment Department’s Employment and Wages by Industry (QCEW), government accounted for 21.0% of the employment and 24.7% of the wages for the three counties comprising Southwestern Oregon (Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties). Statewide, by comparison, government was responsible for 14.1% of employment and 15.3% of wages.

Employment and Wages

Looking at the counties individually, Coos County had the highest percentage of government employment within the Southwestern region with all forms of government accounting for 23.2% of employment. This equates to 5,253 of the 22,678 workers employed in 2022. Coos County’s government also accounted for 29.6% of total wages for the year, which is about double the statewide percentage.
Douglas County had the second highest percentage of government employment. Government accounted for 18.7% of employment, which equates to 7,174 out of the 38,449 workers employed in 2022. Government jobs accounted for 22.2% of wages for 2022.

Curry County government accounted for 17.4% of employment, which equates to 1,167 of the 6,708 workers employed in 2022. Public-sector jobs accounted for 23.7% of wages for the year.
Table showing Government Employment in Southwestern Oregon in 2022

Components of Government Employment

There are three main components that make up government employment: (1) federal; (2) state; and (3) local. The composition of government employment varies for every county, but local government generally accounts for the bulk of government employment because public education institutions and many hospitals are categorized under local government. Aside from that, some counties may have larger percentages of federal or state government than others depending on specific economic or geographic circumstances. For comparison, at the statewide level, local government accounted for 74.2% of total government employment, state government accounted for 15.6%, and federal government accounted for 10.1%.

Coos County

Local government accounted for a whopping 86.3% of government employment. State government accounted for 7.9%, and federal government employed the smallest share of public workers in Coos County at 5.8%.

Douglas County

Local government accounted for 69.9% of government employment. Douglas County is unique because it has a much larger concentration of federal government employment than its Southwestern counterparts do. Federal government accounted for 20.1% of government employment and state government accounted for the remaining 10.0%.

Curry County

Local government accounted for 81.0% of government employment. State government accounted for 10.6% and federal government for the remaining 8.4%.
Table showing Components of Government Employment in Southwestern Oregon in 2022

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