Jobs Recovery by 2024 in South Central Oregon?

by Damon Runberg

June 17, 2016

The economic recovery from the Great Recession has been painfully slow in Klamath and Lake Counties. As of April 2016, employment levels in Klamath County remain 9.3 percent below the pre-recession peak, while Lake County employment levels are 10.8 percent lower. Every two years, the Oregon Employment Department's Research Division calculates 10-year industry and occupational employment projections. The most recent projection cycle shows Klamath and Lake Counties are expected to add 1,750 jobs, a growth of 7 percent between 2014 and 2024. South Central Oregon is expected to approximately reach 2007 peak employment levels by 2024, a 17-year "recovery".

Industry Projections

The private sector is projected to grow at a slightly faster pace (+8%) than the economy as a whole due to very few job gains in the public sector. Four industries account for over 70 percent of the projected job growth in the region. Health care and social assistance is projected to add the most jobs (+490), which is highly influenced by the aging population. Leisure and hospitality, primarily tourism related, is also expected to add a significant number of jobs (+350). The fastest growing industry is expected to be construction, expanding by 32 percent (+250 jobs). Despite this fast growth, industry employment will remain significantly below levels seen during the housing boom in 2006.  Finally, notable gains are also projected in natural resources and mining (+160 jobs). Growth is projected to be concentrated in farming and ranching, as well as, support activities for forestry.
A handful of industries are expected to decline in the long-term. These include information and financial activities, as well as, general merchandise stores. The decline in general merchandise stores includes the recent closure of the two Haggen's in Klamath Falls. The industry is not expected to experience any further declines after accounting for these layoffs.

The Federal Government, a large employer in South Central Oregon, is projected to shed 60 jobs by 2024. Those losses will be balanced by modest gains in state government (primarily higher education jobs). Employment levels in local government are not expected to be significantly different by 2024.  

Occupational Projections

South Central Oregon is expected to see 8,550 new job openings by 2024. Of those, nearly 6,500 (75%) are replacement openings due to retirement or turnover. The remaining openings (2,080) are due to new or expanding businesses.
At the broad occupation group level, construction (15.3%), health care (13%), and service (12.5%) top the list for fastest growing by 2024. The most job openings are projected to be in service occupations (590 openings) and health care (273 openings). Service occupations accounted for about 18 percent of jobs in 2014, but represent nearly 24 percent of occupational openings. Office and administrative support occupations accounted for 15 percent of jobs in 2014, but is only expected to represent about 11.5 percent of the job openings by 2024.

The fastest-growing occupation (with a minimum of 20 jobs) by 2024 is projected to be painters (construction and maintenance), growing by 56 percent (+23 jobs). Other fast growing occupations include fitness trainers, personal care aides, carpenters, and health care social workers. Not surprisingly, the occupations with the most openings are retail salespersons (462), waiters/ waitresses (275), food preparation and serving workers (212), and registered nurses (191). A relatively high share of the openings for retail salespersons, waiters/waitresses, and food preparation and serving related workers are replacement openings due to the high turnover of these occupations.

Educational requirements for the jobs of 2024 are expected to be little changed from 2014. Just under 25 percent of jobs in South Central Oregon require a Bachelor's degree or higher to be competitive for the position. That figure is projected to be unchanged by 2024. Occupations that require postsecondary training (non-degree), such as apprenticeships or certificates, are expected to be the fastest growing with over 9 percent more openings in 2024.

Regional Projections

Projections were estimated for 13 regions across the state. Job growth in South Central Oregon ranked amongst the slowest by 2024. Northeast (+6%), South Coast (5%), and Southeast Oregon (+3%) were the only regions projected to grow slower than South Central Oregon (+7%). Projected growth in Klamath and Lake Counties is around half of the statewide growth (14%) and considerably slower than Central Oregon (+16%), which is projected to be the fastest growing region in the state.
To see industry and occupational employment projections for South Central Oregon and other areas in East Cascades, visit, click on Publications, and under the Employment Projections find your area of interest, or contact me at (541) 706-0779 or

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