Morrow County’s 2020 Payroll Grows by $28 Million Despite COVID Job Loss

by Dallas Fridley

December 14, 2021

Morrow County’s total all industries payroll grew by $28.1 million in 2020 to total $360 million, an increase of 8.5%. Morrow’s 2020 payroll growth ranked fourth among Oregon’s 36 counties, while five counties, including Clatsop, Hood River, Lincoln, Linn, and Wheeler, suffered payroll losses. Oregon’s payroll rose by 2.4% or $2.6 billion to $110.1 billion, while its remaining 31 counties, including Morrow, managed at least some 2020 payroll growth.
One big caveat for 2020 was the Paycheck Protection Program, which distributed $17.3 million in loan assistance to eligible Morrow County business. A total of 269 loans were approved with 256 loans or about $16.7 million forgiven to date according to the SBA. To be eligible for forgiveness, at least 60% of the total borrowed or close to $10.4 million had to be spent on payroll costs. These payroll costs could be incurred in 2020 or 2021 or both years depending on the period covered by the loan. The window for forgiveness is open for 10 months following the last day of the covered loan period, with Morrow County’s total loan forgiveness likely to rise above $10.4 million.

On the employment side, 33 of 36 Oregon counties suffered 2020 job losses. Total all ownerships (private and government) employment in Morrow County fell by 229 jobs or 3.7% in 2020, compared with Oregon’s 6.0% loss. Morrow’s 2020 average fell to 5,943 jobs, its lowest since 2017. Wages did rise considerably in 2020, with Morrow County’s average reaching $60,567, an increase of $6,798 or 12.6% over 2019. The mix of jobs changed considerably in 2020 with heavy losses in industries with below average pay, in particular natural resources and mining.

Oregon’s all ownerships wage reached $59,925 in 2020, lagging Morrow County’s average by $642 or 1.0%. Among Oregon counties, Morrow’s average wage ranked third highest, just behind Multnomah ($68,054) and just ahead of Clackamas ($59,601). The annual wage gap for 26 of Oregon’s 36 counties exceeded $10,000 in 2020. Only three counties, Morrow ($60,567), Multnomah ($68,054), and Washington ($79,899) exceeded Oregon’s 2020 average wage. Multnomah County boasted Oregon’s largest payroll in 2020, with $32.5 billion or 29.5% of Oregon’s total payroll. Washington County’s 2020 payroll, at $22.8 billion, ranked second (Morrow 25th). Together the two counties held just over half of Oregon’s $110.1 billion payroll while hosting nearly 42% of its jobs. Excluding Multnomah and Washington, average pay for Oregon’s remaining 34 counties falls to $50,985, a drop of about $8,940 or about 15%.

Morrow County’s private industry payroll rose by $26.4 million in 2020 to total $306.3 million, an increase of 9.4%. Despite the huge payroll gain, Morrow County cut 194 private industry jobs in 2020, falling to 4,987, a loss of 3.7%. Payroll and employment were not reported for the information industry in 2020 due to confidentiality limitations. Other services also received confidential treatment in 2020.

Professional and business services led Morrow County in 2020 with a payroll gain of about $12 million or 43.4%! Professional and business services paid $96,519 in 2020, nearly $36,000 higher than Morrow County’s average wage. Professional and business services rose by 149 jobs, an increase of 56.7%, to average 412.

Manufacturing boasted private industry’s largest payroll in 2020, at $100.3 million; nearly one-third of Morrow County’s private industry total. Manufacturing payrolls rose by $5.6 million in 2020, an increase of 6.0%. Manufacturing employment actually fell by 125 jobs or 6.6% in 2020 to average 1,763; accounting for more than one-third of Morrow County’s private industry average. Manufacturing pay averaged $56,855 in 2020, rising by $6,750 or 13.5%. Manufacturing wages lagged Morrow County’s all ownerships average pay by about $3,700.

Natural resources and mining cut its payroll by $0.4 million in 2020 (-0.6%), dropping its total to $55.4 million. Employment fell by 17.8% or 234 jobs to average 1,077. Natural resources and mining paid an average $51,427 in 2020, an increase of $8,909 over 2019. Despite double-digit growth, natural resources and mining lagged Morrow County’s average wage by $9,140.

Leisure and hospitality lost 11 jobs (-5%) in 2020, dropping its average to 205, while its payroll was essentially unchanged at close to $4.0 million. Leisure and hospitality represented just 4% of Morrow County’s private industry jobs in 2020, while Oregon’s share was around 10%. Wages in leisure and hospitality rose by $1,054 in 2020 to average $19,288, lagging Morrow County’s all industries average by about $41,300.

Construction slashed its payroll total by about $2.3 million or 42.2% in 2020, falling to $3.1 million. Employment fell to 68, a loss of 22 jobs or 24.4%. Average pay in construction fell by $14,194 (-23.5%) to $46,086, about $14,500 below Morrow County’s all ownerships wage.

Local government payrolls rose by $1.3 million, to total $47 million in 2020, up 2.8%. Local government employment fell by 42 jobs to average 838, while its pay averaged $56,115, an increase of $4,117. Local government pay lagged Morrow County’s all ownerships average wage by about $4,500.

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