Josephine Recession Job Losses and Recovery Gains by Wage Level

Josephine Recession Job Losses and Recovery Gains by Wage Level

by Guy Tauer

November 14, 2016

Josephine County has finally recovered the net number of payroll jobs that were lost during the past Great Recession. New data regarding employment and wages by industry for the second quarter of 2016 were recently released and show employment just above the pre-recession total.

At the pre-recession peak during the second quarter of 2006, there were 25,817 payroll jobs in the county. By the second quarter of 2010, payroll employment fell by about 3,200. As of the second quarter of 2016, the county gained 3,295 jobs during those six years during the recovery, putting the figure just above the pre-recession total. These detailed industry statistics can shed additional light on what industries have added employment and the average wage per job those industries pay.

This analysis examines job losses and gains by wage level from before the Great Recession and through the recovery so far. Industries were grouped to split those roughly 22,100 jobs into nearly equal sized groups. Detailed industry data was used in this review, however there are a few industries that are excluded because the data are suppressed due to confidentiality laws.

Lower-Wage Industries

Lower wage industries paying less than $23,400 on average lost about 390 jobs during the Great Recession, a decline of 6.7 percent. During the recovery from second quarter 2010 to second quarter 2016, lower-wage industries gained 1,026 jobs, rising by 19 percent during those six years.

Looking at the trend over the past decade, employment in "private households" rose by 222. Food services and drinking places ($15,788 annual wage) also added more than 200 lower-wage jobs in the county since second quarter 2006. Food manufacturing gained 95 jobs, with an average annual wage of less than $18,500. Membership organizations and associations ($18,768) added about 50 jobs, as did accommodations ($16,564). Medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries are mostly included in membership organizations, likely contributing to some of that growth. Lower-wage industries losing jobs over that decade included printing and related support activities (-26) and food and beverage stores (-54).

Medium-Wage Industries

Payroll employment in Josephine County's private-sector medium wage industries – those paying between $23,400 and $37,599 on average – dropped about 1,220 jobs during and just after the Great Recession, from second quarter 2006 to second quarter 2010. During the past six years, this group of industries has fully recovered from those losses, gaining about 1,335 jobs.

Taking a longer-term view on employment change, from second quarter 2006 to second quarter 2016, shows a mixed bag among medium-wage industries. Those adding jobs included nursing and residential care facilities (+240), administrative and support services (+210), transportation equipment manufacturing (+160), and crop production (+120). Medium-wage industries with notable job loss over that decade were nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing (-170), wood product manufacturing (-220) and specialty trade contractors (-500). These figures show that while many jobs have returned, those related to the housing and building boom era of the mid-2000s are still below their pre-recession employment peaks.

High-Wage Industries

Higher-wage industries, which paid more than $37,600 on average, lost 1,150 jobs between second quarter 2006 and second quarter 2010, a decline of 16.4 percent. During the subsequent recovery through second quarter 2016, higher-wage industries gained back just 450 of those jobs, a rise of 7.7 percent.

Looking at the longer-term trend over the decade, ambulatory health care services had by far the largest job gain, up by nearly 450. Insurance carriers and related activities (+165) and management of companies and enterprises (+123) also added numerous higher-wage jobs. Professional and technical services added about 50 jobs over the decade. Many higher-wage industries are still below their pre-recession job totals. Many of these are associated with the housing bust and slow recovery in the housing and building sector. Construction of buildings (-326), forestry and logging (-132), and heavy and civil engineering construction (-76) are still below their prior pre-recession employment totals. Other higher-wage industries losing jobs over the decade include merchant wholesalers (-277), computer and electronic product manufacturing (-233), plastic and rubber products manufacturing (-177), and credit intermediation and related activities (-173).

Trends in Average Weekly Hours for All Employees

One often asked question is about full-time versus part-time jobs. Are the new jobs that are being added offering fewer work hours? We don't have the break-out between part and full-time employment for local areas, but Oregon statewide trends show little change over the past 20 years in the distribution of jobs between full and part-time. About 80 percent are considered full-time and about 20 percent are part-time in Oregon. During and shortly following the recession, there was a very slight increase in part-time jobs, but in the later stages of Oregon's recovery, the split between full and part-time employment has edged back closer to its historical 80/20 split.

Data are available for Josephine County on the average weekly hours worked for all employees. This shows a generally rising average workweek after the Great Recession, but a recent decline from a peak figure in March 2015 of 34.7 hours to 31.9 in September 2016. Average weekly hours for all employees were essentially unchanged from September 2015 to September 2016.

Looking at broad industry trends by sector over the past decade shows education and health services, professional and business services, other services and leisure and hospitality adding jobs. On the other hand, information, wholesale trade, construction and manufacturing are still below their pre-recession employment peak in 2006. While job growth is one economic indicator, diving a bit deeper into the quality, i.e. wage level, of those jobs sheds additional light on the economic health of county. While average wages and number of jobs are factors in an area's overall income and poverty rates, other sources of income such as proprietor's earnings, retirement and investment income are also factors to be considered. A recent analysis from a prolific economist with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, Josh Lehner, looked at some of these broader trends for Josephine County. This can be found at