Linn and Benton Counties’ Information Sector

Linn and Benton Counties’ Information Sector

by Pat O'Connor

October 19, 2016

We publish employment data on numerous industries and sectors. For some sectors, it is fairly self-explanatory what types of businesses are included in the sector; construction, manufacturing, and retail trade are a few examples of that.

It isn't quite as obvious to figure out what types of companies are included in the information sector. The information sector includes:

  • Companies in the publishing industry, which includes newspapers, magazines, books, and software publishing.
  • The motion picture and sound recording industry.
  • Broadcasting (except internet), which includes radio and television broadcasting and cable and other subscription programming.
  • Telecommunications includes businesses that provide telephone services; cable and satellite distribution services; and internet access providers.
  • Data processing, hosting, and related services.
Many of the companies in the information industry in Linn and Benton counties serve customers in both counties, so it makes sense to look at the two counties together. In Linn and Benton counties, there were 931 annual average jobs in the information sector in 2015. The sector's employment dropped below 1,000 in 2014 for the first time in the history of the series, which began in 2001. In 2001, the information sector had nearly 1,600 jobs. Since 2001, information's employment has had a fairly steady decline over the years, shedding 667 jobs, or 42 percent of its employment from 2001 to 2015. Linn and Benton counties' information sector employment losses have been particularly steep, but declines in information sector employment are not unique to the Willamette Valley. Nationally, information sector employment declined 24 percent from 2001 to 2015, shedding nearly 900,000 jobs. Oregon's information sector declined 17 percent over that time period, dropping 6,900 jobs.

Within the information sector, most of the employment is in the publishing industries and the telecommunications subsectors. That is true in Linn and Benton counties and is also the case for Oregon and the nation. The publishing and telecommunications subsectors are also where most of the employment loss has occurred over the past 15 years, in particular during the 2000s.

Linn and Benton counties' publishing industry accounts for 336 of the 667 lost jobs in the information sector from 2001 to 2015. Publishing's losses represent 50 percent of information's employment losses over that time. The challenges of traditional media competing in the digital age have been a topic in the news in recent years. As newspapers struggle to remain profitable and in business, they have been forced to do more with less. Newspapers and other publishers use fewer workers to generate more content compared with 10 or 15 years ago.

Linn and Benton counties' telecommunications subsector employment was more than 400 in 2001, by 2015 telecommunications jobs numbered less than 250. Those 171 lost telecommunications jobs account for one out of four of the jobs lost in the information sector from 2001 to 2015.

Telecommunications evolution over the past 15 years has seen a change where not nearly as many equipment installers or line installers are needed compared with 15 years ago. The rapid growth of wireless technologies and improved labor saving technological advancements mean that not nearly as many workers are needed to deliver telecommunication goods and services as were needed in the past.

The information sector has experienced large structural changes over the past 15 years that have resulted in steep employment declines. The information industry is projected to lose employment in Linn and Benton counties from 2014 to 2024, declining 5 percent over that time. Although the industry is projected to continue losing jobs, the job loss is projected to be slower than the losses the industry has experienced since 2001.

Information Workers By Age and Gender

Men held 65 percent of the jobs in Linn and Benton counties' information sector in 2015. Statewide, nearly 64 percent of information jobs are held by men. In Linn and Benton counties the overall workforce across all industries has a slightly larger share of men working in the two counties. Men held 51.6 percent of the jobs in Linn and Benton counties while women held 48.4 percent of the jobs.

Linn and Benton counties' information sector has a larger share of workers in their prime working age (ages 25-54) compared with the total workforce. Across all industries in both counties, 62 percent of workers are in their prime working years. In the information sector, nearly 65 percent of workers are in their prime working years in Linn and Benton counties.