Jackson County Employment Change First Quarter 2020 to First Quarter 2021

by Guy Tauer

August 16, 2021

Data from the Quarterly Census and Employment and Wages (QCEW) program provides detail regarding change in total payroll, business units, average wage per job, and employment at the county level. Data for the first quarter of 2021 was recently released and this confirmed what our monthly estimates have shown. Jackson County lost about 4,600 payroll jobs from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. However, this was still an improvement from the pandemic low during the second quarter of 2020. Our monthly employment estimates usually provide data at the broad industry or sector detail such as “construction”. Data from the QCEW program publishes data typically to the 3-digit North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) level of industry detail. For example, within the construction industry, detail for Jackson County is available for construction of buildings, heavy and civil engineering construction, and specialty trade contractors.

These more detailed data available through March 2021 show that the largest losses over the year at the 3-digit NAICS level occurred in food services and drinking places (-1,956); accommodations (-450); amusement, gambling, and recreation industries (-400); and performing arts and spectator sports (-376). As the top four comprise the leisure and hospitality sector, it’s easy to see why leisure and hospitality accounted for about 70% of total payroll employment job losses over the year. Social assistance and manufacturing each lost more than 300 jobs during that time. Total employment at nursing and residential care facilities fell by about 260.

Some industries were less impacted by the pandemic and showed either less job loss, or in some cases their employment rose right through the pandemic. Those that defied the pandemic’s employment gravity included food and beverage stores, building and garden material stores, hospitals, and couriers and messengers, which all added jobs over the year. A few other sectors were only impacted during the worst months of the pandemic, at least employment wise and so far, and have resumed adding jobs over the year through the first quarter of 2021. Those included construction of buildings, ambulatory health care services, and general merchandise stores.
Being able to look at more detailed industries gives us more insight into which sectors are performing differently below the surface of the monthly published sector level. Now we’ll look at a few of those sectors showing mixed trends at the detailed industry level.

Construction: Construction fell just slightly over the year, but a gain of 135 jobs in construction of buildings was largely offset by a decline of 133 in specialty trade contractors.

Manufacturing: This goods-producing sector showed an overall decline, led by losses in beverage and tobacco (-55); chemical manufacturing (-46); and fabricated metal manufacturing (-40). Some jobs were added in machinery and other miscellaneous manufacturing, totaling about 45 jobs.

Retail trade: Offsetting the gains shown above in food and beverage stores, general merchandise stores, and building material and garden supply stores, there were losses in clothing and accessory stores (-132); motor vehicle and parts dealers (-112); gasoline stations (-66); and furniture and home furnishing stores (-43).

Transportation: This critical group of industries wound up with a slight decline over the year, with losses in air, truck, and transit and ground transportation offset by a gain of about 120 jobs in courier and messenger services.

Private educational and health services: More sizable losses in social assistance (-320) and nursing and residential care facilities (-264) in addition to a loss of 54 jobs in private educational services were slightly offset by job gains in hospitals (+161) and ambulatory health care services (+67).

Job Change by Industry Wage Level

Statewide analysis has shown that the pandemic has impacted lower-wage industries more than medium- or high-wage industries during the COVID-19 pandemic and so far in the recovery. The most recent Economic and Revenue Forecast from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis notes, “The pandemic recession is different. Low-wage service workers have borne the brunt of the lost jobs. Both food preparation, and personal care (barbershops and nail salons) lost nearly 20% of their jobs last year. Middle-wage jobs suffered an average recession instead of a severe one, while high-wage job growth slowed, but did not decline outright.

Given the middle-wage job outlook has called for only moderate gains during expansions, one of the more concerning parts to the COVID recession was that it hammered the low-wage jobs. A lot of times workers struggled to adjust when they lose their traditional, middle-wage job. While a few are able to land high-wage jobs, the vast majority end up taking a low-wage job, moving away in search of work, or dropping out of the labor force entirely. None of this is a good dynamic

We can look at change in employment by average industry wage as one way to measure the effect of the pandemic on different industries and their associated wages. The approximately 72,500 private-sector payroll jobs for which we have published data at the 3-digit NAICS industry level were divided roughly in thirds based on average wage per job for the first quarter of 2021.

From the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, employment declined by 14% among Jackson County industries that paid an average annual wage per job between $19,700 to $34,256 (1st quarter wages annualized). All of the leisure and hospitality 3-digit industries were in this group and all had large job losses. Social assistance (-320); membership organizations (-168); and clothing and accessory stores (-132) also lost more than 100 jobs.

The middle-wage group of industries, those with annualized pay between $34,304 and $58,496, lost 1,108 jobs during that time, or a decline of 4.1%. The greatest losses in this middle-wage group were in performing arts and spectator sports (-376); nursing and residential care facilities (-246); and specialty trade contractors (-133).

The group of higher-wage industries, those with an average annual pay per job of $61,896 or more, saw a slight increase of 169 jobs, a gain of 0.7% over the year. Hospitals (+161) and ambulatory heath care services (+67) gained jobs. Higher-wage industries with job losses included chemical manufacturing (-46); credit intermediation and related activity (-39); and telecommunications (-23).

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