Nearly 120,000 New Jobs Forecasted for Portland-Metro, 2014-2024

Nearly 120,000 New Jobs Forecasted for Portland-Metro, 2014-2024

by Amy Vander Vliet

July 5, 2016

Portland-Metro will grow by nearly 120,000 jobs by 2024 according to the latest projections published by the Research Division of the Oregon Employment Department. This translates into a growth rate of 15.0 percent; slightly faster than the state as a whole (+13.9%) and significantly faster than the nation (6.5%).

By Industry

Every broad industry in the two-county region (Multnomah and Washington) will add jobs over the coming decade. Portland is unique compared with Oregon and the U.S. in that health care will not lead growth. Due to our urban economy, job growth will be dominated instead by the large and diverse professional and business services sector. Its nearly 31,000 new jobs will be distributed across all published components, led by corporate offices (+8,300) – a largely urban industry, with the Portland region home to the headquarters of Daimler (North American), Pacificorp, Nike, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, and others. Employment services, computer systems design, and architecture and engineering services ­– all of which also tend to be more concentrated in metropolitan regions – will account for another third of expected growth.

Trade, transportation, and utilities will be the second largest source of new jobs, followed by health care and social assistance. Anticipated strong population growth underlies gains in these sectors. The population will also be aging, further fueling demand for health care.

Construction doesn't top the list in the total number of new jobs, but it will be one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy. Again, population growth is at play here. Additionally, Portland has extremely low rental vacancy rates, and there's also pent up demand for commercial space. These shortages will strengthen demand for buildings and therefore construction workers, at least until supply catches up with demand.

On the other end of the growth spectrum, the government sector will be the slowest-growing broad industry in the region. Moderate growth in K-12 and community colleges will be partially offset by slowing in state government and losses in federal government, due in part to continued cuts in post offices.

By Occupation
Translating the industry numbers into occupations, the ‘professional and related' broad occupational group tops the list for adding the largest number of new jobs, at nearly 23,000. This category includes computer (e.g., software developers, web developers), architecture and engineering, legal, and teaching occupations. Service occupations –which include protective service workers, food service-related occupations, and personal care occupations – will grow by nearly as many.

Drilling down further, of the 587 detailed occupations we track in the Portland-Metro Region, all but 51 are projected to add jobs. Retail salespersons will add the largest number of jobs, at 4,500. This comes as no surprise; it's the largest occupation in the region, and one that is also powered by anticipated strong population growth and tourism. Customer service representatives and registered nurses round out the top three.

Of the 51 declining occupations, six of the 10 occupations with the largest losses are either postal- or printing-related. About half of the others were in administrative/office jobs (e.g., file clerks) or production occupations (e.g., machine setters).
It's Not Just About Growth

While thousands of jobs will be created over the coming years by economic growth – new or expanding companies – many existing jobs will become open due to replacement needs, predominantly due to retirements. In fact, for every two jobs created due to economic growth, three existing jobs will become vacant. In total, Portland-Metro employers will need to fill nearly 300,000 job openings between 2014 and 2024.

By Region

Projections were produced for Oregon statewide and various regions across the state. Central Oregon is expected to have the fastest job growth by 2024 (+16.1%; 14,050 jobs). Clackamas County and Portland-Metro are close behind, each with 15 percent rates of growth.

In fact, the fastest job growth rates within Oregon are projected to be in regions containing a metro area. Seven of the 14 regions across the state include a metro area; all of those regions are forecast to see rates of job growth at 9 percent or higher. Meanwhile, all but two of the seven regions without a metro area are expected to see growth rates at 7 percent or lower.

Employment projections are available on the Publications page at