Hood River County One of Five Oregon Counties to Cut Payrolls in 2020

by Dallas Fridley

October 18, 2021

Hood River County’s total all industries payroll fell by $5.8 million in 2020, dropping to $580.6 million, a loss of 1%. Five Oregon counties, including Clatsop, Lincoln, Linn, and Wheeler, suffered a payroll loss in 2020. Oregon’s payroll rose by 2.4% or $2.6 billion to $110.1 billion, while its remaining 31 counties also managed at least some 2020 payroll growth.

One big caveat for 2020 was the Paycheck Protection Program, which distributed nearly $104 million in loan assistance to eligible Hood River County businesses. A total of 1,307 loans were approved with 606 loans or about $49 million forgiven to date according to the SBA. To be eligible for forgiveness, at least 60% of the total borrowed or close to $30 million had to be spent on payroll costs. These payroll costs could be incurred in 2020 or 2021 or both years depending on the period covered by the loan. The window for forgiveness is open for 10-months following the last day of the covered loan period, with Hood River County’s total loan forgiveness likely to rise above $49 million.

On the employment side, 33 of 36 Oregon counties did suffer a 2020 job loss. Total all industries and ownerships (private and government) employment in Hood River County fell by 1,128 jobs or 7.8% in 2020, compared with Oregon’s 6.0% loss. Wages did rise considerably in 2020, with Hood River County’s average reaching $43,777, an increase of $3,028 or 7.4% over 2019. The mix of jobs changed considerably in 2020 with the heaviest losses in lower-wage industries, particularly leisure and hospitality and other services.
Hood River County’s growth cooled off leading up to the pandemic, with 2019 payroll rising by a tepid 2.2% or $12.5 million. In contrast, Hood River County payroll grew rapidly in 2018, with a payroll increase of $48.7 million or 9.3%. Likewise, 2017 stood out as a banner year, with payrolls up $42.2 million or 8.7%. Even with 2019’s tepid growth, Hood River County’s payrolls rose by about 21% in the three years leading up to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Oregon’s all industries average wage reached $59,925 in 2020, about $16,100 higher than Hood River County’s. Among Oregon’s 36 counties, Hood River County’s average wage ranked well below the middle of the pack, in 22nd position, just behind Lake County ($43,781) and just ahead of Coos County ($43,433). The annual wage gap for 26 of Oregon’s 36 counties exceeded $10,000 in 2020. Only three counties, Morrow ($60,567), Multnomah ($68,054), and Washington ($79,899) exceeded Oregon’s 2020 average wage. Multnomah County boasted Oregon’s largest payroll in 2020, with $32.5 billion or 29.5% of Oregon’s total payroll. Washington County’s 2020 payroll, at $22.8 billion ranked second. Together the two counties held just over half of Oregon’s $110.1 billion payroll while hosting nearly 42% of its jobs. Excluding Multnomah and Washington, average pay for Oregon’s remaining 34 counties falls to $50,985, a drop of about $8,940 or about 15%.

Hood River County’s private industry payroll fell by $7.8 million in 2020 to total $511.5 million, a loss of 1.5%. Private industry employment dropped to 12,041 in 2020, a loss of 1,068 jobs or 8.1%.

Health care and social assistance led Hood River County in 2020 with a payroll gain of $2.1 million or 2.5%. Health care and social assistance’s payroll ranked as private industry’s second largest in 2020, with manufacturing’s $84.9 million leading Hood River County. Employment in health care and social assistance rose by 1% or 16 jobs in 2020. The average wage in healthcare and social assistance reached $51,263, an increase of 1.5% or about $770. It should be noted that a fairly significant industry code change in 2020 shifted about 40 jobs from other services and into health care and social assistance; see the note below on industry code changes for additional detail.

While health care and social assistance grew in 2020, its companion education services did not. Rather than report employment and payroll for education and health care as an industry group – it’s important to note that private education lost more than $0.3 million in payroll (-12.9%), dropping to $2.3 million.

Retail trade performed pretty well in 2020 from a payroll standpoint, rising by 3.5% or $1.5 million to total $43.5 million. Employment, on the other hand, fell by 4% or 59 jobs to average 1,416. Wages in retail trade averaged $30,715 in 2020, more than $13,000 below Hood River County’s all industries average.

Construction also produced payroll growth in 2020, rising by $1.0 million to total $24.7 million, up 4.4%. On the employment side, construction gained seven jobs (+1.5%) to total 487. Wages in construction reached $50,744 in 2020, an increase of nearly 3% over 2019 and nearly $7,000 above Hood River County’s all industries average.

Manufacturing grew its payroll by just over $1.0 million in 2020 to reach $84.9 million, an increase of 1.2%. Employment actually fell by 152 jobs or 8.3% in 2020 to average 1,688. Wages increased by $4,702, up 10.3% to $50,300, more than $6,500 above the county’s all industries average.

Financial activities performed exceptionally from a payroll growth standpoint, rising by 8.5% or $1.1 million in 2020 to $14.3 million. Like most private industries, it cut jobs in 2020, falling by 17 jobs or 7.1% to average 224. Average pay rose by 16.7% or $9,141 to $63,796, about $9,100 above Hood River County’s all industries average.

Natural resources and mining ranked as Hood River County’s largest industry based on employment with 2,386 jobs in 2020. Employment in natural resources and mining fell by 132 jobs in 2020 while its total payroll dropped to $67.6 million, a loss of 1.8% or $1.2 million. Natural resources and mining paid an average $28,329 in 2020 about $15,400 below Hood River County’s all industries average pay.

Leisure and hospitality suffered a payroll loss of $7.6 million in 2020, falling 14.2% to total $45.9 million. Employment fell by about 21% to average 1,872, a loss of more than 500 jobs. Wages in leisure and hospitality rose by nearly $2,000 in 2020 to average $24,536, lagging Hood River County’s all industries average by about $19,200 or 44%.

Professional and business services cut payrolls in 2020, falling by $3.6 million (-4.1%) to $82.9 million and bringing its losses over two years to $7.5 million. The industry’s downturn in 2019 and 2020 came on the heels of a banner year in 2018, when payrolls rose by $9.6 million to total $90.4 million. Employment fell by 75 jobs to average 1,027 in 2020, well below its recent peak of 1,168 jobs in 2018. Wages in professional and business services rose by 2.9% in 2020 to $80,674, about $36,900 above the county’s average.

Transportation, warehousing, and utilities cut employment by 25% in 2020, a loss of 50 jobs, to average 150. Payroll losses of $1.5 million dropped the industries total to $8.8 million, down 14.5%. Wages rose by $7,206 or 14% to $58,818, about $15,000 ahead of Hood River County’s all industries average.

Other services cut its payrolls by $0.7 million or 4.5% to $15.0 million in 2020. The industry cut 66 jobs, a loss of 14%, to average 405. Wages in other services rose by 11.1% or about $3,700 in 2020 to average 37,077, trailing the county’s average by $6,700. And as noted with health care and social assistance, a code change in 2020 moved about 40 jobs out of other services.

Information lost about 4% of its payroll and nearly 20% of its jobs in 2020. Payrolls in information totaled $8.8 million, a drop of $0.4 million, while its employment averaged 119 jobs. Average wages in information climbed by 19.5% or $12,060 in 2020 to $74,037, nearly $30,300 ahead of Hood River County’s average.

Government payrolls rose by nearly $2.0 million or 2.9% in 2020 to total $69.1 million. The 2020 Census provided a boost for federal government, increasing its payrolls by $1.0 million and adding nine jobs. State government cut payrolls slightly in 2020, a drop of $0.1 million (-2.2%), and local government increased its payrolls by about $1.0 million (+1.8%).

Note: A review of industry coding found that certain business units in 814110 (Private Households), which is part of the other services industry group, more closely aligned with industry code 624120 (Services for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities). This change impacted approximately 10,600 jobs in other services. The move was essentially limited to Home Care Workers and Personal Support Workers hired by public or private health care providers to assist in the daily care of elderly or disabled individuals. They typically live in the individual's home providing day-to-day care. Job duties may include housekeeping, food preparation and shopping.

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