Head Out on the Highway: Baker County Commuter Data

by Christopher Rich

October 18, 2019

The thought of commuting to work may conjure images of the Westside’s urban sprawl and life in the big city. However, living in one town and working in another is common among Oregon’s rural workforce as well. The U.S. Census Bureau provides data on workforce commute patterns with its On-The-Map tool. The most recent data reveals that slightly more than one-fourth of Baker County’s workforce came from outside the county in 2017 while just over one-third of workers living in Baker commuted to jobs in a different county. 

It’s common for workers to commute to or from neighboring counties. Roughly 37.0 percent of Baker County’s inbound commuters in 2017 came from the four Oregon counties that make up its border. Union County held the top spot, shipping 23.5 percent of all inbound commuters. Union County supplied 6.7 percent of Baker’s total workforce (the largest group from La Grande). Malheur County supplied 2.2 percent of Baker’s workforce (the largest group from unincorporated parts of the county). Grant and Wallowa counties supplied 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent of the workforce, respectively.

The four neighboring counties served as the destination for 30.8 percent of Baker’s outbound commuters. Union held the top spot here as well, receiving 19.9 percent of all outbound commuters. For workers who reside in Baker County, Union County supplied 6.9 percent of jobs (the majority in La Grande). Malheur County supplied 1.9 percent of jobs (the largest group in Ontario). Grant and Wallowa counties supplied 1.1 percent and 0.8 percent of jobs, respectively.

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