Made in Oregon: A Profile of the State’s Manufacturing SectorJanuary 5, 2021 Oregon-made products have secured a spot on store shelves around the country, and even the world. Some of these products have obvious Oregon roots, tasty things like marionberry jam, cheese, fine wines, and beers that say ‘Oregon’ right on the label. Some Oregon-made products remain out of view, however. For example, components in the device you’re reading this article with might have been made right here in Oregon. Whether you can see it on the label or not, Oregon’s manufacturing sector produces products ranging from basic wooden pellets to precise aerospace parts. The diverse sector is a fundamental component of the state’s identity, and will remain so as it continues to grow.
A manufacturing establishment is defined as an establishment that mechanically, physically, or chemically transforms material, substances, or components into new products. In 2019, Oregon was home to 6,396 manufacturing establishments, providing the state with 198,000 jobs or 10.2% of total payroll employment.
Manufacturing has a slightly larger than average footprint in Oregon (10.2% of employment compared with 8.5% nationally) and is growing more quickly over the long term than the nation. Since its lowest employment level in February and March 2010, manufacturing employment in Oregon has grown by 12.0% compared with the nation’s 7.0%.
Despite outperforming the U.S. in terms of long-term growth, Oregon has recently suffered relatively sharper declines in manufacturing employment since January 2019 that have continued during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since January 2019, employment in Oregon’s manufacturing sector declined by 8% compared with a 4% decline nationally.
Oregon’s manufacturing sector looks very different than it does nationally. Computer and electronic components manufacturing comprises nearly 20% of the sector statewide compared with roughly 8% of national manufacturing employment. Wood product manufacturing also has a strong presence in Oregon, making up 12% of sector employment compared with 3% of the sector nationally.
A more detailed industry analysis shows just how diverse the manufacturing sector is. The largest detailed industry by far is the semiconductor and electronic components industry (30,400 jobs in 2019). It also pays far more on average than any other manufacturing industry at $149,300 compared with $71,400 across all manufacturing sectors.
True to Oregon’s long history in forestry, two of Oregon’s top industries are tied to our natural resources: veneer and engineered wood products (9,000 jobs) and sawmills and wood preservation (6,200 jobs). While employment in wood product manufacturing is but a fraction of what it was a few decades ago, these two industries combined play an influential role in Oregon’s manufacturing sector.
Two relatively low-paying industries in the top 10 largest manufacturing industries are frozen food manufacturing ($41,100) and bread and bakery product manufacturing ($38,000). While these industries make up a large chunk of Oregon’s manufacturing sector, the jobs paid average annual wages considerably lower than the statewide average wage of $55,000.
As more and more Oregon wines and beers hit shelves around the country and world, the winery and brewery industries are thrust into the spotlight. Both of these industries in Oregon have sizeable employment. Employment in wineries has risen steadily over the years, and is highly seasonal, due to employment spikes around harvest time. Brewery employment has skyrocketed in recent years as the craft beer industry has boomed. Oregon’s wineries and breweries also pay relatively lower wages at $37,000 and $41,000, respectively.
Another notable industry in Oregon is the motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing industry. This industry includes recreational vehicle manufacturers. Prior to the recession in 2007, this industry peaked at 4,800 jobs. After suffering massive losses during the recession, the industry was left with less than 2,000 jobs. Since then, employment has rebounded and steadily climbed to around 3,400 jobs.
For more information on detailed industries, visit QualityInfo.org where information is published on 125 detailed Oregon manufacturing industries.
Average wages in Oregon’s manufacturing sector have climbed steadily over the past two decades as the state made the shift from a more natural resource-based manufacturing sector to a center for high-tech manufacturing. In 2019, the average annual wage for manufacturing in Oregon was about $71,400. This far exceeded the state’s average wage of $55,000.
Looking deeper into Oregon’s manufacturing wages, this difference is largely attributable to wages in the computer and electronic product manufacturing industry, which paid an annual average of about $137,000 in 2019. Excluding computer and electronic product manufacturing, Oregon’s average wage across manufacturing industries was about $55,600, slightly higher the state’s average.
Long-Term Aging of the Workforce
The manufacturing workforce in Oregon is older and aging slightly quicker than the workforce as a whole. Twenty years ago in 1999, 39% of Oregon’s workforce was between 14 and 34 years old. In manufacturing, about 35% of workers were between 14 and 34 years of age. In 2019, only 33% of the workforce was between 14 to 34 years old, while in manufacturing just 29% of workers were in this age group.
The share of workers ages 35 to 54 have in manufacturing has declined by 8 percentage points compared with 20 years ago. In the overall workforce, this group’s share has declined by 6 percentage points over the past 20 years.
In both the overall workforce and the manufacturing workforce, workers in the 55 and over age group continue to make up a larger share as baby boomers pass into the 55 and older group. However, the manufacturing workforce has not had as many young workers enter, as is the case for the overall workforce.
As workers retire, these positions will need to be filled by workers who have less experience in the field. This is true for both the overall workforce and the manufacturing workforce but is more pronounced for the manufacturing workforce as fewer young workers have joined.
The share of manufacturing workers by gender has remained unchanged for the past 20 years. In 1999, about 73% of the manufacturing workforce was male, and 27% female. These shares have remained about the same throughout the past two decades.
The Oregon Employment Department projects that the state’s manufacturing sector will grow by 5% between 2019 and 2029. Within manufacturing, machinery manufacturing is expected to grow quickest at 10%. The only broad manufacturing industries expected to lose employment are wood products and paper manufacturing.
Manufacturing is expected to grow by 9,900 jobs between 2019 and 2029. In addition to these job gains, there will be many more job openings due to the need to replace workers who leave manufacturing jobs, most of them ending their careers and retiring. Manufacturing may be anticipated to grow at a slower rate than the overall economy in coming years, but as the workforce continues to age there will be lots of job opportunities in the manufacturing industry of the future.
Production occupations with the most projected annual job openings include general production workers (5,400); metal and plastic workers (2,800); assemblers and fabricators (2,300); and food processing workers (1,800). Many high-demand manufacturing occupations typically require a high school education at the entry level. Postsecondary training can make job seekers more competitive for today’s manufacturing jobs.
Oregon’s manufacturing sector has experienced faster long-term growth than manufacturing across the nation. The state’s manufacturing sector has suffered relatively heavier losses leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic and has yet to begin recovering. However, 5% growth is projected from 2019 to 2029, and many job opportunities will be available as new jobs are created and workers leaving their current occupations are replaced.