Northwest Oregon’s Financial Sector

by Shawna Sykes

April 6, 2021

Financial activities made up about 3% of Northwest Oregon employment and more than $150 million in payroll in 2019. From its 2012 recessionary employment low of 3,530 jobs, the financial activities sector grew by over 15% to its 2019 high of 4,080 jobs. Like other sectors, finance dipped in 2020, falling by 200 jobs (5%) year-over-year.

The financial activities sector includes banks, credit unions, and mortgage brokers as well as financial investment brokers, insurance companies, funds, trusts, and other financial vehicles, real estate and rental and leasing businesses.   
Benton County leads the region in finance jobs with 39%, followed by Lincoln (21%), Clatsop (19%), Columbia (14%), and Tillamook (7%). Job losses in 2020 were not spread out equally among the NW Oregon counties, however. Tillamook County lost the largest share of financial activities jobs (18%) while Clatsop County lost the largest number of finance jobs (70) from 2019 through 2020.

The real estate sector has been hot in NW Oregon, as well as other areas of the state. According to Theresa Muth, Real Estate Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate in Columbia County, “The current housing market is like nothing I’ve seen. The stories you hear are true: homes going for tens of thousands over asking price, repairs and inspections waived, appraisals waived, short closing periods and more. With such a lack of inventory on the market and a surge of qualified buyers, sellers are in the driver’s seat and buyers are getting more and more desperate. In Columbia County, homes are going (sale) pending in just a few days.” Low interest rates and more time spent at home has motivated many to seek out their dream homes during COVID, and existing homeowners to refinance their homes to make home improvements. This churning of buying, selling, and refinancing has helped to lessen the COVID downturn in the financial activities sector in NW Oregon.

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