Health Care Will Lead Long-Term Job Growth in Oregon

Health Care Will Lead Long-Term Job Growth in Oregon

by Gail Krumenauer

June 13, 2016

Oregon's total employment will grow by 260,200 jobs between 2014 and 2024. The 14 percent increase in employment includes private-sector gains of 233,300 jobs, growth of 11,400 jobs in government, and an additional 15,500 self-employed Oregonians.

Big Industries Add the Most Jobs

Oregon's largest industries are generally expected to add the most jobs over the decade. Health care and social assistance will add 46,300 jobs, the most of any sector statewide. It's followed closely by professional and business services with 45,700 additional jobs in 2024. There may be little surprise seeing health care and professional and business services among the top industries adding jobs. After all, they are two of the largest industries in the state. But in addition to their size, these are also two of the three fastest-growing industries.

Fast growth in health care (22%) can be attributed to the growth and aging of the state's population. Within health care, independent health care practitioners (such as chiropractors, physical and speech therapists) and offices of other specialists (29%) and nursing and residential care facilities (27%) are expected to grow much faster than hospitals (9%).

Professional and business services growth (21%) will be driven by gains in professional and technical services such as computer systems design (40%) and management of companies and enterprises (27%). Management of companies and enterprises includes the state's corporate offices.

Buildup in Construction

The other fastest-growing industry in Oregon is not among the biggest. Fueled by demand from both population and economic growth, and with low residential and commercial vacancy rates (particularly in Portland), construction jobs should ramp up considerably (22%) by 2024.

Within construction, building finishing contractors are projected to add 3,800 jobs, a gain of 34 percent. This includes contractors for drywall and insulation, flooring, and finish carpentry. Employment at other specialty trade contractors – such as building demolition crews, earth movers, foundation diggers, and some types of paving work – should increase by 30 percent. Residential building construction growth is also projected to rise by 30 percent over the decade.

Peak Employment

Despite rapid growth, projected construction employment of 97,000 jobs in 2024 falls short of the industry's peak employment (104,200 in 2007). A few other sectors will not hit peak employment levels either.

Manufacturing employment should grow by 9 percent to 200,200 jobs. That's well below 228,500 in 1998, and slightly short of the most recent peak in 2006 (207,500 jobs). Growth of 10 percent in financial activities results in 102,200 jobs, below its height of 106,400 in 2007. The information sector's addition of 2,000 jobs between 2014 and 2024 results in industry employment of 32,800. Information last peaked in 2001 at 39,700 jobs.

Slow-Growing and Declining Industries

Projections show slow growth or decline in all broad areas of government. Federal government declines should continue (-4%), largely due to federal postal employment losses. State government growth (3%) will be driven primarily by state-owned hospitals, and local government gains are expected to total 5 percent.

An interesting mix of components make up Oregon's information sector, the slowest-growing of the broad private industries. On one hand, information includes the fast-growing software publishing industry, and rising employment in motion picture and video industries. On the other hand, information also includes some industry groups in long-term or rapid decline that's projected to continue to 2024. Among these are newspaper, book, and periodical publishers (-21%); and radio and television broadcasting (-14%).

Several other industry groups with the biggest projected losses relate to the production and distribution of various paper-related products. These include pulp, paper, and paperboard mills (-21%); paper and paper product merchant wholesalers (-14%); printing and related support activities (-10%); and converted paper product manufacturing (-8%).

All Industries Need Workers

Whether growing rapidly or showing a net loss of jobs by 2024, all broad industries provide employment opportunities to Oregonians. The demand is clear in some industries. Together health care, professional and business services, and construction will account for nearly half of all new jobs in the state. Even slower growing sectors and declining industries still offer job opportunities though, as they need to replace retiring workers or others leaving the industry. More information about Oregon's long-term employment projections can be found on the Publications page of