Long-Term Job Outlook for Douglas, Coos, and Curry Counties Is Modest

by Annette Shelton-Tiderman

July 9, 2018

Southwestern Oregon’s Douglas, Coos, and Curry counties join Oregon’s north coast and far eastern counties with modest industry and occupational growth projections for, 2017-2027. The anticipated 7 percent job growth trails the state’s 10-year projected growth rate of 12 percent. Only South Central Oregon (Klamath and Lake counties) has a slower projected job growth rate (6%) for the 10-year period. These modest rates for the state’s border counties are in stark contrast to the state’s central high-growth area surrounding Bend, which boasts a robust 15 percent projected growth rate.

Behind much of this projected employment growth is the dynamic nature of each area’s demographic make-up. Southwestern Oregon’s population is expected to grow 2.3 percent between 2018 and 2025, and 1.9 percent between 2025 and 2030. In contrast, Central Oregon’s Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson counties’ population is expected to grow 15.8 percent between 2018 and 2025, and 9.6 percent from 2025 to 2030 (Portland State University, Population Research Center). Population growth drives not only the demand for goods and services, it also supplies the labor needed to meet these needs.

Overall employment levels change for a variety of reasons; growth results from business development and expansion. Statewide, for every new job added by growing and expanding businesses, Oregon employers will have another nine job openings requiring newly trained workers to replace those who leave the labor force or make a major occupational change. In Southwestern Oregon, every new job added by business development and expansion will be matched by approximately 18 replacement openings.

Private payrolls in Douglas, Coos, and Curry counties are expected to grow by 4,340 jobs (7%). Government employment will increase by 270 (2%), and self-employment will grow by 400 (10%). Altogether, the region’s employment is expected to grow from 72,550 to 77,290.

Construction, and Private Education and Health Services Lead Industry Growth

Construction is forecasted to be the fastest growing industry in the region, expanding by 18 percent over the next 10 years (+510 jobs). This growth is a continuation of the recent recovery in this industry. Pent-up demand, dating back over a decade, is likely to sustain this industry’s leading role in regional employment growth.

The largest number of jobs added will be in private educational and health services – an industry sector dominated by health care-related services (most of the region’s educational services fall under the umbrella of local government). With growth projected at 14 percent, it is anticipated that this industry will add 1,340 jobs during the decade.
Other industries showing above-regional-average growth rates include the other services and private households sector, and leisure and hospitality. The other services sector is projected to rank third in regional industry growth rates (11%; 290 jobs). This broad business arena includes such activities as repair and maintenance businesses, personal and laundry services, membership associations and organizations, and private households (e.g., those employing cooks, house cleaners, gardeners, etc.). Leisure and hospitality is projected to add 580 jobs, for a total of 7,850 jobs by 2027 (8% growth rate).

Although not usually considered as a defined industry sector, self-employment across the three-county region is expected to grow from 3,950 to 4,350 (400 jobs; 10% growth). This arena is often viewed as reflecting those with entrepreneurial interests.

Employment fluctuations in professional and business services offer interesting insights into the overall economy, especially in Douglas and Coos counties where a majority of the businesses are staffing agencies, temporary services entities, and others that provide support to businesses. As such, this sector’s employment can reflect underlying shifts in the overall demand for labor. These business support-related entities make up nearly 70 percent of the industry in Coos County; 62 percent in Douglas County; and just over 18 percent in Curry County. The sector is forecasted to add 370 jobs (6% growth) across the three counties from 2017 to 2027.

Nearly all other sectors will show employment increases over the next decade. Job growth in trade, transportation, and utilities, although projected below the regional average, is still expected to increase by 490 jobs (4% job growth). Retail trade, which accounts for 70 percent of the sector’s employment, looks to add 410 jobs (5% growth). Manufacturing is projected to add 250 jobs (4%); durable goods production employment is anticipated to grow from 6,240 jobs to 6,410 – a 3 percent growth rate. Government employment shows little change, it’s projected to grow2 percent overall. However, local government education is expected to decline 3 percent.

The only major industry sector expected to lose jobs over the forecast period is information. This is a small employment sector that is expected to see modest declines (-50 jobs) by 2027.

Occupational Growth Extends Throughout the Economy 

Distributions of occupations throughout an area tend to follow two basic patterns. There are those specific to a particular industry, e.g., health-related professions are found in businesses in the healthcare industry; and there are occupations that span a number of industry sectors; for instance, accountants are found in nearly all businesses. Demand is measured by the number of job openings as well as the rate of the job growth. For example, large occupational groups tend to generate large numbers of openings; whereas smaller occupational groups may grow faster but generate fewer actual openings. Thus, the greatest number of employment openings are found in the largest occupational groups. 

In the next decade, Southwestern Oregon’s employment is expected to grow from 72,489 jobs to 77,231 (6.5% growth). There are 90,373 total job openings associated with supplying the labor needed to maintain current businesses and develop or expand additional business operations. Of these openings, 94.8 percent (85,631) are needed as replacements for workers leaving the labor force or making major occupational changes. Despite modest rates of expected business growth and expansion, there’s an overwhelming need for workers to replace those permanently leaving their occupation.

Because office and administrative support occupations are found in nearly all businesses, this group represents the largest number of jobs in the region. It accounts for well over 13 percent of Southwestern Oregon’s total employment. These occupations, with their pervasive distribution across the economy, are forecasted to have the greatest number of total openings (11,675). Of these, 98.5 percent will be replacement openings.

Two other large occupational groups are food preparation and serving-related occupations – accounting for 9 percent of the region’s total employment; and sales and related occupations, which account for nearly 11 percent of regional jobs. Food preparation and serving-related occupations are often seasonal and part-time; this occupational group is expected to have 11,891 openings in the next decade (95.3%; 11,333 for replacement). Sales occupations tend to span various industry sectors and offer a variety of workplace settings and opportunities. Over the next 10 years, sales and related occupations will offer 11,779 total openings, 95.8 percent to meet replacement needs.
The occupational groups having the greatest percentage growth include personal care and service occupations (14.8%; 7,633 openings); health care support occupations (14.5%; 2,728 openings); construction and extraction occupations (13.4%; 4,325 openings); building and grounds cleaning and maintenance (10.3%; 4,003); and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (10.0%; 2,583 openings). Other arenas expected to grow faster than the regional average include the large food preparation and related occupations group as well as management and business (7.6%; 2,654); and installation, maintenance, and repair occupations (7.5%; 3,444 openings).

Groups with growth rates less than the all-occupation average include several of the largest groups, which by sheer size generate large number of openings despite slower-than-average growth. Also included are farming and related; protective services; transportation and material moving; and production, a group associated with the manufacturing industry. The sole occupational group expected to lose employment over the decade is education, training, and library occupations (-0.8%; -26 jobs).

It is important to remember that the projections process is based on a number of factors that include a continuation of the status quo adjusted by projected population changes, known business start-ups currently having broken ground, etc. Although the projections cover a 10-year period, they are updated every two years so adjustments reflecting economic changes and improved data can be incorporated.

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