Mid-Valley Manufacturing Employment

by Will Summers

November 9, 2017

Manufacturing employment in the Mid-Valley (Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties) has been trending down slightly since 2001, except for Yamhill County. Employment has fallen 7.9 percent (-2,308). At the same time, the number of businesses in the industry increased.
The number of firms grew from 883 to 942 or by 59 firms between 2001 and 2016. News reports during this time informed us some large manufacturers have closed in the area and smaller businesses have opened. The table shows the number of firms with lower levels of employment grew, while medium and large businesses went out of business. Some examples are:

  • Truitt Brothers closed its green bean, pear, and cherry processing operations (about 147 full time/500 seasonal employees);
  • SP Fiber mill/WestRock Company closed its mill in Newberg (about 220 employees);
  • DeLuxe Ice Cream closed (about 75 full time/25 part time employees).
Manufacturing employment in the four counties in 2001 was 29,373; employment in 2016 was 27,065. The industry lost 2,308 jobs or about an 8.0 percent drop in employment. Another measure is the average number of jobs per firm. In 2001, Mid-Valley manufacturing had an average of 32.3 jobs per firm; in 2016 this number dropped to 30.0 jobs per firm.

Largest Manufacturing Sectors

Three areas of manufacturing that are common in all four counties are food product, wood product, and fabricated metal product manufacturing. Food manufacturing has the largest employment level of the three and the most new firms.

From 2001 to 2016, food manufacturing saw an increase of 27 businesses and overall growth of 513 jobs, an increase of about 9.0 percent. From 2001 to 2016, wood product manufacturing lost 12 firms and lost 1,359 jobs, a decrease of about 25.0 percent. Fabricated metal product manufacturing gained 15 firms but lost 187 jobs; a decrease of about 8.0 percent.

Fastest Growing County and Sector

Total manufacturing employment in Yamhill County was up 12.3 percent (680 workers) from 2001 to 2016. The beverage and tobacco product industry in the Mid-Valley is the part of the manufacturing industry that has seen the fastest growth. The industry consists mainly of wine and brandy manufacturing (89%); beer, ale, and malt liquors manufacturing (8%); all other beverage and tobacco product manufacturing (3%). It has grown from 41 firms in 2001 to 155 firms in 2016. With so few firms in the industry in 2001 some counties employment data were confidential. The industry is now large enough to report an average annual employment of about 1,850; the majority (84 percent) of the firms have fewer than 20 employees.

Yamhill County is where much of the growth in beverage manufacturing has occurred. It has grown from 25 firms with 318 employees in 2001, to 110 firms with 1,200 employees in 2016.

Manufacturing Employment: Still Dominated by Men

Manufacturing in the Mid-Valley, as well as in Oregon, has always employed more men than women. In 2016, men made up 71 percent of employment in manufacturing. Since 2001, this percentage has varied from 70 to 72 percent. The percentage of women the manufacturing workforce varied from 28 to 30 percent from 2001 to 2016.
Industry Workforce Growing Older

The manufacturing workforce has grown older. In 2001, about 15 percent of workers (about 1 out of 7 workers) were 55+ years old. In 2016, almost 26 percent of the workers (about one out of four workers) were 55+ years old. Not only is the workforce getting older, but fewer young workers are entering the industry. People ages 14 to 34 made up almost one out of three workers in 2001. In 2016, people ages 14 to 34 made up about one out of four workers. With the total employment in the industry falling, this suggests young workers are not searching out manufacturing jobs.
The Mid-Valley is not the only area experiencing this trend. In 2016, workers ages 55+ held 26 percent of jobs in Mid-Valley manufacturing, 24 percent in Oregon manufacturing, and 27 percent in United States has manufacturing.

The trend of the aging manufacturing workforce reinforces the Portland State University Population Research Center’s population forecast where the population ages 25 to 54 will grow at a 0.8 percent annualized rate between 2017 and 2067. The forecast for the 55-plus age cohort is to grow at a 1.2 percent annualized rate during the same period.

Conclusion

The manufacturing industry has changed in the Mid-Valley. Fewer large firms are in the Mid-Valley and employment has dropped; at the same time, the number of firms in the area has increased. The workforce will continue to age; older workers will put off retiring. Fewer young workers are joining the manufacturing workforce. One sector has been a bright spot; the beverage products manufacturing, specifically the wine industry, has been the fastest growing sector for all manufacturing.

 


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