Oregon Businesses Adding Jobs Faster than Government

Oregon Businesses Adding Jobs Faster than Government

by Nick Beleiciks

March 20, 2017

Oregon’s private sector added 45,800 jobs in 2016, while the government sector added 6,100 jobs. That is an 8-to-1 private jobs to government job ratio. That ratio doesn’t have any particular meaning, nor is it consistent over time, but the ratio has been 8-to-1 in each of the last three years. During that period, Oregon’s private sector added jobs at a growth rate equivalent to 3.3 percent per year, much faster than the government job growth rate of 2.0 percent per year.

Private Sector Adds 140,400 Jobs Since 2013

Oregon has been adding jobs at a faster rate than the nation since 2013. The growth has been across a wide range of industries paying low-, middle-, and high-wages. The fastest growing industry over the last three years was construction, which added 16,400 jobs for an annual growth rate equivalent to 6.9 percent. Other industries with fast growth were management of companies (7,200 jobs, 6.0% annual growth rate), professional and technical services (11,700, 4.6%), leisure and hospitality (22,400, 4.1%), administrative and waste services (10,100, 3.6%), and health care and social assistance (22,300, 3.4%). The only major industry that hasn’t grown much in the last three years is mining and logging, which added just 100 jobs for an annual growth rate of just 0.4 percent.

Government Sector Adds 18,100 Jobs Since 2013

The government sector covers jobs in federal, state, and local government. This includes public schools and hospitals. Government job growth in Oregon over the last three years has been driven by the recovery of government budgets following the end of the recession; growth in Oregon’s population; and an increase in the number of home care workers.

Government employment follows a different pattern than private-sector employment during and following a recession. Previously decided budgets and an increased need for public services means that government employment tends to be comparably stable during recession. The government job cuts come later when new, lower budgets are set. For example, Oregon’s private-sector employment reached its low point in January 2010, and has been adding jobs since then. Government employment began falling soon after, reaching its lowest point in July 2013. So an analysis like this, starting from the low point of government employment during the cycle, captures the recovery of public-sector budgets as they return to normal levels.

Population growth also drives government job growth. Since 2013, Oregon’s population grew by more than 157,000 people. That’s an annual growth rate of 1.3 percent. More people leads to an increasing need for government services, and therefore more jobs in the public sector.

It’s impossible to break out how much job growth is due to recovery from the recession, and how much is due to population growth. However, with a little digging behind the numbers we can look at what types of government jobs have been added since 2013. Of the 18,100 jobs added in government, 6,500 (1.7% annual growth rate) were in education, which includes K-12 public schools, community colleges, and public universities. Another 4,800 jobs (2.1% annual rate) were added in other local government; 1,800 (1.6% annual rate) were added in state government agencies; and 700 jobs (0.8% annual rate) were added in federal government.

Home Care Workers Effect on State Government Job Growth

The remaining government job growth is home care workers who provide in-home services to seniors or adults with disabilities in their own homes. Home care workers are funded primarily through Medicaid, but their employer of record is the State of Oregon and they show up in the data in state government jobs. However, home care workers are not considered state employees for other purposes such as the public employee retirement system.

The number of home care workers has grown rapidly since 2013, adding about 4,300 jobs for an annual growth rate of 10.5 percent. Home care workers account for one out of four jobs added to Oregon’s government sector during the last three years.

In other states, home care workers are counted in private sector health care and social assistance, even when those jobs are funded through Medicaid.

More Information is Available

This analysis looks at growth in annual average employment from 2013 to 2016. More information about job growth in Oregon, including the number of jobs by detailed industry, is available on through the Current Employment Estimates (CES) tool.