Made in Oregon: A Profile of the State’s Manufacturing Sector

by Felicia Bechtoldt

March 14, 2019

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 the third quarter of 2018, Oregon was home to 6,284 manufacturing establishments, providing the state with 198,000 jobs.

Oregon’s manufacturing sector is growing more quickly than the nation’s. Since its lowest employment level in February and March 2010, manufacturing employment in Oregon has grown by 23 percent compared with the nation’s 12 percent. Over the year,
Oregon saw manufacturing growth of 2.6 percent, higher than the nation’s 2.0 percent. However, as of January 2019 manufacturing employment in Oregon is still 8,500 jobs below its pre-recession peak in July 2006.

On top of faster growth, Oregon’s manufacturing sector is also a larger component of the economy than it is for the nation. While manufacturing made up 8.5 percent of payroll employment in the United States in 2018, it made up 10.2 percent of Oregon’s employment.

Out of eight measured broad manufacturing industries, only one declined over the year; paper manufacturing dropped 200 jobs in 2018, a loss of 4.8 percent. Food manufacturing barely budged over the year, growing 0.3 percent in 2018. While food manufacturing employs a larger share of manufacturing jobs in Oregon, the sector grew faster nationally in 2018.

Oregon’s top manufacturing industry, computer and electronic component manufacturing, grew 2.7 percent to total 37,900 jobs in 2018. As a share of manufacturing jobs, computer and electronic component manufacturing made up 19.4 percent of Oregon’s manufacturing jobs in 2018. Nationally, computer and electronic component manufacturing represented 8.3 percent of all manufacturing jobs.
Another important industry in Oregon is wood product manufacturing, which made up 12.1 percent of manufacturing jobs in 2018. It grew 2.2 percent in 2018, about the same growth rate as the nation’s 2.4 percent. Nationally, wood product manufacturing only made up 3.2 percent of manufacturing jobs.

Oregon’s Specialties

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 (28,600 jobs). It also pays far more on average than any other manufacturing industries ($143,200). Other high-paying industries on the list include electronic instrument manufacturing ($93,200) and aerospace product and parts manufacturing ($84,900).
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 (8,800 jobs) and sawmills and wood preservation (6,400 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 and bread and bakery product manufacturing. While these industries make up a large chunk of Oregon’s manufacturing sector, the jobs paid average annual wages below $40,000, considerably lower than the statewide average wage of $51,100.

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 annual average wages below $40,000.

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 3,500 jobs.

For more information on detailed industries, visit QualityInfo.org where information is published on 125 detailed Oregon manufacturing industries.

Wages

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 2017, the average annual wage for manufacturing in Oregon was about $68,200. This far exceeded the state’s average wage of $51,100.

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 $131,100 in 2017. Excluding computer and electronic product manufacturing, Oregon’s average wage across manufacturing industries was about $53,000, slightly higher the state’s average.

Long-Term Aging of the Workforce

The manufacturing workforce in Oregon is aging more quickly than the workforce as a whole. Twenty years ago in 1997, 40 percent of Oregon’s workforce was between 14 and 34 years old. In manufacturing, about 37 percent of workers were between 14 and 34 years of age. In 2017, only 34 percent of the workforce was between 14 to 34 years old, while in manufacturing just 28 percent of workers were in this age group.
Workers ages 35 to 54 have a slightly lower share in manufacturing than 20 years ago. In the overall workforce, this group’s share has declined 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.

Gender

The share of manufacturing workers by gender has remained unchanged for the past 20 years. In 1997, about 73 percent of the manufacturing workforce was male, and 27 percent female. These shares were the same in 2017, and remained almost exactly the same throughout the past two decades.

Projections

The Oregon Employment Department projects that the manufacturing sector in Oregon will grow by 6.7 percent between 2017 and 2027. Within manufacturing, food manufacturing is expected to grow quickest at 14.8 percent. The only broad manufacturing industry expected to lose employment is the paper manufacturing industry.
Manufacturing is expected to grow by 12,600 jobs between 2017 and 2027. 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 job openings include general production workers (9,700); managers of production and operating workers (8,100); packaging and filling machine operators (7,500); production worker’s helpers (6,800); and inspectors, testers, and sorters (6,300). 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.

Conclusion

Oregon’s manufacturing sector is growing more quickly than manufacturing across the nation, and it is expected to continue doing so. Wages in the sector are higher than the statewide average, but after factoring out computer and electronic product manufacturing, are close to the statewide average. The share of manufacturing workers in older age groups continues to increase, even more so than the share across all industries.

 


Our Latest Articles Our Latest Articles

Latest Items