Long-Term Projections Show Broad-Based Job Opportunities in Linn and Benton Counties

by Pat O'Connor

May 4, 2022

Linn and Benton counties will combine to add 13,220 jobs between 2020 and 2030, according to new projections from the Oregon Employment Department. This represents a 14% increase in employment over 10 years. The anticipated growth stems from private-sector gains of 11,580 jobs (17%) and growth of 1,320 jobs (6%) in government. This projected 14% growth rate is faster than the near 10% growth seen over the past decade in Linn and Benton counties. One reason for the strong 14% growth is that 2020 was in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.

Beyond gains from economic growth, an additional 101,390 job openings will be created by 2030 as workers change occupations or leave for other reasons, such as retirement.

The 2020 to 2030 employment projections bring together several trends that have been building over the past few years as well as new ones resulting from the COVID-19 recession. The health care sector has been growing for a number of years, due in part to an aging population. Another long-term trend is public-sector employment growing more slowly than private-sector employment. Baby boomers will continue to retire in large numbers over the next decade. A new trend is very fast job growth in the leisure and hospitality sector as it recovers from the COVID-19 recession.
Industry Projections

There will be job opportunities in all of the broad private-sector industries by 2030. The region’s private educational and health services sector is projected to add the most jobs (+2,350 jobs). This is followed by the leisure and hospitality sector (+2,170 jobs). Trade, transportation, and utilities is projected to add 1,750 jobs. This industry includes retailers and wholesale trade, as well as distribution centers. The manufacturing sector is projected to add 1,730 jobs, growing 16% over the decade.

The construction industry will continue growing over the decade, it is projected to grow 25% and add 1,060 jobs by 2030. Construction’s 25% growth is the second fastest rate of any sector, second only to leisure and hospitality’s projected 33% growth.

In the public sector, federal government employment is projected to be essentially flat, adding 10 jobs from 2020 to 2030, growing 1%. State government is projected to grow 8%, adding 70 jobs over the decade. Local government employment is projected to grow 1,240 or 7% over the decade, with 1,020 of those jobs within local government education. Local government education includes local school districts (K-12) as well as Oregon State University, which moved from state government to local government in 2014.

Occupational Projections

Between 2020 and 2030, there will be job openings in all occupations. In addition to the nearly 13,200 occupational openings from new or expanding businesses, Linn-Benton employers will also need sufficiently trained workers for the more than 101,000 openings due to the need to replace those workers leaving their occupations. Replacement openings will make up a majority of total job openings in all major occupational groups in Linn and Benton counties.

Linn and Benton counties’ economic diversity is demonstrated by the occupational group projected to have the most job openings: service occupations are expected to have nearly 25,500 openings from 2020 to 2030. 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.

Other occupational groups with a large number of projected openings are professional and related occupations, office and administrative occupations, and transportation and material moving occupations. Professional occupations, which include web developers, engineers, and lawyers, tend to pay higher wages and require higher levels of education.

The three fastest growing groups are service; construction; and installation, maintenance and repair occupations. Strong demand for housing will continue the demand for more workers in construction occupations. Fast growth in service occupations will occur as the leisure and hospitality sector continues to bounce back from the pandemic recession.   
In terms of actual job counts though, fast food workers, retail salespersons, cashiers, laborers and freight movers, and home health personal care aides are the five occupations with the most job openings anticipated in the coming 10 years. These are all large occupations, and they will all experience some openings due to economic growth, but also due to the retirement or other departure of existing workers.
A little more than half (54%) of the projected job openings in Linn and Benton counties 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 25% of the openings at the competitive level.

Other Regional Projections

All areas of Oregon expect to see job opportunities due to both economic recovery and growth, and to replace workers leaving the labor force in the coming years. The two regions projected to grow at the fastest rates are Central Oregon (18%) and the Portland area (17%). The Mid-Valley and Northwest Oregon are both projected to grow at the same rate as Oregon statewide – 16%. All other areas, including Linn and Benton counties, are projected to have slower growth.


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