Morrow County 2018 Year in Review: Highest Employment Growth Rate in Oregon

by Dallas Fridley

March 21, 2019

Morrow County led Oregon in 2018, rising by 6.8 percent or 320 nonfarm jobs to average 5,000. Morrow grew at nearly four times the pace Oregon experienced, with the state adding 34,200 jobs, an increase of 1.8 percent, to total 1,909,500. Morrow County’s 6.8 percent employment gain led Oregon’s labor market areas, with Jefferson County’s 4.3 percent and Hood River County’s 3.7 percent trailing.
Manufacturing led Morrow County’s industry growth in 2018, rising by 80 jobs or 4.6 percent to average 1,810. Education and health services also performed well, rising by 70 jobs or 38.9 percent to average 250. However, it is important to note that a legislative decision moved home care workers out of state government in 2018, inflating growth in education and health services. State government lost 70 jobs (-50%) in 2018, falling to just 70 – and most, if not all, of that loss reflected the movement of home care workers.

Professional and business services also showed strength, rising by 40 jobs to average 230, an increase of 21.1 percent. Leisure and hospitality served up a gain of 20 jobs, lifting its 2018 average to 190. Mining, logging, and construction increased its total by 10 jobs to average 30 (+50%). Retail trade fell to 280 jobs, a loss of 20 or 6.7 percent. Construction also cut its ranks, shedding 20 jobs and falling to 120 (-14.3%).

Although state government lost 70 jobs in 2018, local government rose by 60 to average 890, while federal government held steady with 60.

Looking back to 2008, Morrow County’s nonfarm employment rose by 1,680 jobs or about 5.1 percent annually, again leading the state! Oregon achieved a growth rate of about 1.1 percent annually from 2008 through 2018. The Bend-Redmond, OR MSA also performed exceptionally, rising at an annual rate of 2.3 percent from 2008 to 2018, followed by Washington County’s 1.9 percent and Hood River County’s 1.6 percent. Gilliam County landed at the opposite end of the spectrum, with an employment loss of 1.6 percent annually, reflecting the transitory nature of windfarm construction that ended near the mid-point of the decade.

Strong job growth in four industries really stood out for Morrow County over 2008 to 2018 – but not all industries can be disclosed due to confidentiality; information and other services are suppressed. Nonfarm employment rose by 1,680 jobs over the decade and together the top four industries created 1,130, leaving a balance of 550. Manufacturing prospered with an increase of 670 jobs or 58.8 percent lifting its total to 1,810 jobs. Professional and business services produced a higher percentage gain, while also adding 170 jobs to average 230. Education and health services likewise impressed, more than doubling its employment, rising by 130 jobs. Local government certainly expanded over the decade, rising by 160 jobs or nearly 22 percent to average 890 in 2018. Retail trade (+90) and construction (+70) earned honorable mention, while on the losing end, wholesale trade (-30) and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-30) cut jobs over the decade.


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