Manufacturing’s Comeback

by Amy Vander Vliet

September 25, 2018

After getting hammered by the Great Recession, Portland’s manufacturing sector has finally made a complete recovery. As of August, preliminary numbers show year-to-date average annual employment is 1,700 jobs (1.3%) above the pre-recession peak of 2006.

The metro area’s industrial sector suffered the largest job losses of any major sector in the recession, shedding nearly 20,000 jobs; 15 percent of its base. While the economy as a whole would make a complete recovery by 2013, it would take another five years for manufacturing to climb out of its recessionary hole.  
Dipping below the 30,000-foot level, most published components of manufacturing lost jobs during the recession. Since hitting bottom, all have added jobs with the lone exception of paper manufacturing. This sector has been clobbered by mill closures in Newberg, Oregon City, West Linn, St. Helens, and Camas. On the other end of the spectrum, food manufacturing – which barely felt the recession – and machinery manufacturing are thousands of jobs above their pre-recession peaks. In between these two extremes lie the others: wood products, transportation equipment, metals, and computer and electronic products manufacturing are on the road to recovery but not yet there. 

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