Long-Term Projections Show Broad-Based Growth in the Mid-Valley Workforce Area

by Pat O'Connor

August 4, 2016

The Mid-Valley Workforce Area (Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties) will add 24,600 jobs between 2014 and 2024, according to new projections from the Oregon Employment Department. This represents a 10 percent increase in employment over 10 years. The growth stems from anticipated private-sector gains of 21,500 jobs (11%) and the addition of 1,500 jobs (4%) in government. This projected 10 percent growth rate exceeds the 6 percent growth seen over the past decade in the Mid-Valley.
Beyond gains from economic growth, an additional 59,400 job openings will be created by 2024 as workers change occupations or leave for other reasons, such as retirement.

The 2014 to 2024 employment projections bring together several ongoing trends over the past few years: a growing health care sector, due in part to an aging population; continuing recovery from the Great Recession, particularly for the construction industry; and the need to replace workers due to retirements.

Industry Projections
There will be job opportunities in all of the broad private-sector industry groups. All are expected to add jobs by 2024, except information, which is expected to remain at the same employment level.

The region's private educational and health services sector is projected to add the most jobs (+5,600), followed by trade, transportation, and utilities (+3,200 jobs) and professional and business services, which will add 2,900 jobs.

The region's construction industry, continuing its recovery from massive recession job losses, is projected to grow at the fastest rate of any industry (19 percent, or +2,100 jobs).
Even with its relatively fast growth rate, the construction industry's employment will not return to the level seen prior to the Great Recession. Other industries expected to fall short of pre-recession employment levels by 2024 include manufacturing and information.
Information – which includes newspaper, directory, and book publishers, as well as software publishing and other firms – will be the region's slowest-growing private-sector industry with no employment growth forecast over the 10-year period.

Federal government (-5%) is the only major industry sector expected to shed jobs over the decade.

Occupational Projections

Between 2014 and 2024, there will be job openings in almost all occupations.

Economic diversity in the Mid-Valley Workforce Area is demonstrated by the two very different occupational categories projected to have the most job openings in the region: service (18,000 openings), and professional (9,700 openings). Service occupations – which include jobs as varied as emergency services, pest control workers, and fast food cooks – generally pay lower wages and require lower levels of education. Professional occupations, which include web developers, engineers, and lawyers, tend to pay higher wages and require higher levels of education.
Health care and construction occupations tend to be the ones growing fastest, driven in large part by the aging population and recession-recovery trends noted earlier. Veterinary technicians, brick masons, CNC operators, and home health aides are the fastest-growing large occupations in the region.

In terms of actual job counts though, retail salespersons, farmworkers, food preparation and serving workers, cashiers, and registered nurses are the five occupations with the most job openings anticipated by 2024. These are all large occupations, and they will all experience some openings due to economic growth, but many more due to the retirement or other departure of existing workers.

In addition to the 25,700 new jobs from businesses opening or expanding, the region's employers will also need sufficiently trained workers for the 59,400 openings due to the need to replace those leaving occupations. With the exception of construction occupations, replacement openings will make up a majority of total job openings in all major occupational groups.

Half (51%) of the projected job openings in the Mid-Valley will require some sort of education beyond high school in order for candidates to be more competitive in the hiring process. A bachelor's degree or higher will be needed for about 24 percent of the openings at the competitive level.

Other Regional Projections

Central Oregon and the Portland Metro area will record the fastest employment growth over the 10-year period, according to projections made by the Oregon Employment Department's regional economists. The Portland tri-county area consisting of Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties anticipates 15 percent employment growth by 2024. The Central Oregon region made up of Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson counties expects employment gains of 16 percent. Harney and Malheur counties are expected to grow the slowest in the state, growing 3 percent by 2024.

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