Long-Term Projections Show Broad-Based Job Opportunities in Northwest Oregon

by Erik Knoder

July 21, 2016

Northwest Oregon is expected to add 7,450 jobs between 2014 and 2024, according to new projections from the Oregon Employment Department for Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, and Tillamook counties. This represents a 7 percent increase in employment over 10 years. The anticipated growth stems from private-sector gains of 5,960 jobs (8%) and growth of 1,110 jobs (5%) in government.

Northwest Oregon had 99,580 jobs in 2014. This included an estimated 4,830 jobs from self-employment. Anticipated growth will push the region's job count to 107,030 in 2024. Government comprised 24 percent of the jobs in Northwest Oregon. This share is helped considerably by the presence of Oregon State University, which contributes nearly half of the 24,180 government jobs in the region.
Other large industries in Northwest Oregon are leisure and hospitality with 14,590 jobs in 2014; trade, transportation, and utilities with 13,930 jobs; and private educational and health services with 11,690 jobs. Leisure and hospitality often serves as a proxy for the important tourism trade in the region.

Beyond gains from economic growth, an additional 24,165 job openings will be created by 2024 as workers change occupations or leave for other reasons, such as retirement. This number is important when considering the capacity of job training programs a region will need to offer in order to have a skilled workforce. Altogether, Northwest Oregon will need about 32,000 trained workers over the next 10 years to accommodate the region's growth and replacement of existing workers.

The 2014 to 2024 employment projections bring together several trends that have been building over the past few years: continuing recovery from the Great Recession, particularly for leisure and hospitality and government education; a growing health care sector, due in part to an aging population; and continuing baby boomer retirements.

Industry Projections

There will be job opportunities in almost all of the broad industry groups; all except the information industry are expected to add jobs by 2024.
The region's leisure and hospitality sector – which consists of accommodation (lodging), food services, and entertainment firms – is projected to add the most jobs (1,660), followed by the private educational and health services sector (1,210).

Employment in leisure and hospitality is ahead of its pre-recession levels in all the Northwest counties except Lincoln County, and is growing well.

Northwest Oregon's construction industry, continuing its recovery from massive recession job losses, is projected to grow at the fastest rate of any industry (19%, or 570 jobs). Wholesale trade is expected to have the second-fastest growth (17%), but it probably won't contribute that many jobs (180) since it is a smaller industry.

Government will see slower growth at 5 percent. Federal government is expected to shed a few jobs. State and local governments are limited by their funding. One important change for the region is that Oregon State University's employment will change to being counted in local government in 2016 instead of state government. For these projections, however, it is being counted in state government only in order to simplify interpreting the data.

Information (-11%) is the only major industry sector expected to shed jobs over the decade. It is forecast to lose 120 jobs over 10 years.

Occupational Projections

Between 2014 and 2024, there will be job openings in most occupations. In addition to the 8,067 occupational openings from new or expanding businesses, Northwest Oregon employers will also need sufficiently trained workers for the 24,165 openings due to the need to replace those leaving their occupations. Replacement openings will make up a majority of total job openings in all major occupational groups and usually far outnumber the openings due to growth. Construction is the only exception to this rule; the number of growth openings is roughly equal to the number of replacement openings.
These occupational projections make clear that Northwest Oregon has a service economy. Service occupations make up the largest broad group of occupations, and this group is expected to have 9,301 openings from 2014 to 2024. Service occupations – which include jobs as varied as emergency services, pest control workers, and fast food cooks – often pay lower wages and require lower levels of education.

Other large occupational groups are professional and related occupations, sales and related occupations, and office and administrative occupations. Professional and related occupations, which include web developers, engineers, and lawyers, tend to pay higher wages and require higher levels of education. The largest sales occupation is retail salesperson. It tends to be a fairly low-paying occupation.

Construction and extraction (14.6%); and farming, fishing, and forestry (13.0%) are the two major groups growing at the fastest rates. Their growth is driven in large part by recession-recovery trends. However, these two groups have only 1,031 and 1,191 total openings respectively, making them two of the smaller occupational groups.

The top five fastest-growing specific occupations with more than 100 openings are home health aides, machinists, industrial machine mechanics, personal care aides, and carpenters. Although these occupations are growing fast, they don't account for most job openings.

In terms of actual job counts, retail salespersons, food preparation and serving workers, waiters and waitresses, cashiers, and cooks 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 and many more due to the retirement or other departure of existing workers.

About 30 percent of all job openings typically require education beyond high school as a minimum to enter the occupation. About 50 percent of the projected job openings will require some sort of education beyond high school in order for candidates to be competitive in the hiring process. A bachelor's degree or higher will be needed for about 25 percent of the openings at the competitive level.

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