Jackson County’s Alvin Lee Look at Industry Trends – 10 Years After

by Guy Tauer

December 17, 2018

British blues-rock guitarist Alvin Lee was the front man of the band Ten Years After. So it seemed a fitting title, one that pays homage to this late musician for a review of Jackson County’s job growth trends during the course of the Great Recession and subsequent recovery. Back in July, we published a summary of the employment outlook and forecast for the next 10 years. Now we’ll shift our vision to the rear-view mirror and take a look back at the past 10 or so years of job change by industry.

After employment peaked in 2007, nonfarm payroll employment fell by about 3,100 jobs from 2007 to 2008. Even though the recession officially ended in June 2009, Jackson County employment continued to contract, shedding about 6,400 more jobs from 2008 to 2011. I’d love to change the world and erase this painful chapter, but since I can’t, let’s take a look back and see what industries have fully recovered those losses and what industries haven’t recovered. I’m a lucky man that I was able to stay employed during that past downturn, but many were not. Our current recovery seems to have some long legs. There’s a feeling that our current expansion may be running its course, but so far not much evidence of slow down, but it will happen sooner or later. (Words in italics are all songs by Alvin Lee; rest in peace.)
None of the broad industry categories gained jobs during the Great Recession in Jackson County. For this recession loss and recovery gain chart, I didn’t strictly adhere to a 10-year look at employment history. Instead, the pre-recession peak was used.

Construction employment peaked in 2006, so data for this industry is for the 2006 to 2018 period. Other industries reached their pre-recession peak employment in 2007 or 2008. Construction had the largest net job loss during the previous downturn, shedding about one-half of total jobs, or a decline of 3,140 jobs from peak to trough employment. Most current estimates show this industry added back about two-thirds of those jobs as of September 2018, or an increase of about 2,000 jobs. While Oregon has regained and now surpassed its prior pre-recession peak in construction employment, Jackson County has a long way still to go.

Retail trade is another industry that has not returned to pre-recession peak employment, despite recent new businesses sprouting up at the Northgate Marketplace Shopping Center in recent years. Retail trade employment slipped by 2,600 jobs during and just after the official end to the Great Recession. Since that low-point, retail trade added back 1,300 jobs as of September 2018, according to preliminary estimates produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Manufacturing employment took a big hit during the last recession, declining by about 1,700 jobs. Since then, current estimates show employment recovering and in fact the industry is about 100 jobs above the previous peak total. However it should be noted that some of this increase was due to a shift of where some jobs are counted, out of other industries and now included in the manufacturing total.

Professional and business services has nearly regained the jobs lost during the recession. This diverse mix of industries lost 1,370 jobs, but has since regained 1,220 of those to almost reach its previous peak.

Leisure and hospitality employment had the fifth largest net job loss, down by 1,170 jobs as the economy tanked. Since then this sector has far surpassed it previous peak, adding 2,840 jobs from the trough to September 2018.

Another industry contributing significantly to Jackson County’s overall recovery from recession is health care and social assistance. This “recession-resistant” industry showed essentially no job loss during and just after the official recession. During the recovery, this sector added about 4,700 jobs in Jackson County. However, the published figures include home care workers that were previously counted in state government but now are included in the private sector health care and social assistance industry.  The net change from previous pre-recession peak employment to current is shown in the above graph. The second figure in the health care and social assistance row is the estimated real change in employment, without the home care workers previously counted in government.
Some sectors have regained all jobs lost during the recession, with a few exceptions. Retail trade doesn’t appear to be poised for faster growth to reach pre-recession peak anytime soon. However, revisions to the preliminary estimates may change the picture slightly. Two sectors related to the housing and building sectors have yet to regain all the job lost: construction (-1,150) and financial activities (-270). The information industry was unique in that it lost jobs during the recession, and has continued to lose jobs during the broader economic recovery in recent years.


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