Oregon Metals and Machinery Manufacturing

by Lynn Wallis

March 1, 2019

The primary metals, fabricated metal products and machinery manufacturing industries refine ferrous and nonferrous metals from ore, transform metal into intermediate or end products, such as machinery or metal parts, and create end products that apply mechanical force. This group of industries employed close to 40,000 Oregon workers in the first half of 2018.

A Rich History

Metals. Throughout history and the advancement of civilization, the discovery and application of metals has driven the way people live and how societies have been shaped. According to AZoM, an online publication for the material science community, prehistoric man is known to have used six metals: gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, and iron. Although all of these metals were used for decoration, trade, vessels and weapons, the discovery of iron was a game changer. This metal was used for all sorts of applications and the rapid growth of its use led to the ‘Iron Age’ which was a transition from the less developed Bronze Age.

Advances in agriculture, warfare, transport, even cookery are impossible without metal. So is the entire industrial revolution, from steam engine to electricity. Today, our society is completely reliant on metals and the science of metallurgy (a science used to separate metals from their ore).

Machinery. Today’s machinery production stems from industrial revolution innovations generated at the beginning of the 18th century. Steam engines provided tremendous power and required no food or rest like the horses preceding them. According to Global Electronic Services, manufacturing essentially began with six simple machines: the lever, wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge, pulley, and screw.

Before the industrial revolution, crafts people made most goods by hand on an as-needed basis and transported them by wagon if not used on-site. Afterward, factory workers produced items in bulk and transported them worldwide. Some of the first industries affect were the textile, mining, glass, and agricultural sectors.

Industry Cluster Defined

The metals/machinery manufacturing industry cluster is actually made up of three industry sectors: primary metals, fabricated metal, and machinery manufacturing. Oregon’s metal and machinery cluster made up 20 percent of employment in manufacturing in third quarter of 2018.  Employment in this manufacturing cluster took a hit during the recession loosing over 2,000 jobs statewide. The industry has been mostly gaining employment since the recession – adding more than 4,000 jobs since 2011.
Primary Metal Manufacturing

Industries in this subsector smelt and/or refine ferrous and nonferrous metals from ore, pig or scrap, using electrometallurgical and other process metallurgical techniques. The output of smelting and refining is used in rolling, drawing, and extruding operations to make sheet, strip, bar, rod, or wire, and in molten form to make castings and other basic metal products.

There were 58 primary metals firms in Oregon during 2017, employing 8,192 workers. The average annual industry wage in 2017 was $71,525.

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

Industries in this subsector transform metal into intermediate or end products, other than machinery, computers and electronics, and metal furniture. Important fabricated metal processes are forging, stamping, bending, forming, and machining, used to shape individual pieces of metal. Other processes such as welding and assembling are used to join separate parts together.

There were 903 fabricated metal firms in Oregon during 2017, employing 15,929 workers. The average annual industry wage in 2017 was $52,476.

Machinery Manufacturing

Industries in this subsector create end products that apply mechanical force to perform work. Important processes for the manufacture of machinery are forging, stamping, bending, forming, and machining that are used to shape individual pieces of metal. Processes such as welding and assembling are used to join separate parts together. Complex assembly operations are an inherent part of the production process.

There were 362 machinery manufacturing firms in Oregon during 2017, employing 13,046 workers. The average annual industry wage in 2017 was $72,206.

Occupations by Sector

The three sectors share many of the same occupations such as mechanical engineers, electricians, numerical tool and process control programmers, and machinists. The average wage for the majority of the largest occupations is over $20 an hour and a significant number of occupations require a high school diploma as the minimum level of education. Job openings, though, often require related past job experience, apprenticeship training, or on-the-job training.
Metal/Machinery Manufacturing as a Traded Sector

Oregon exports a significant portion of its products and services to the world. The state’s exports totaled $21.9 billion in 2017. Metals and machinery products made up 20.8 percent of these exports, totaling $4.55 billion. Total exports increased by $4.2 billion from 2010 to 2017 or by 23.8 percent. During that same time period, exports of fabricated metal products increased by 27.8 percent, primary metal products decreased by 36.6 percent, and machinery products increased by 154.7 percent.
Future Growth

The Oregon Employment Department’s 2017 to 2027 industry projections expect total private employment to grow by 12 percent by 2027. The manufacturing industry, as a whole, is expected to grow at a significantly slower pace of 7 percent. Employment in both fabricated metal products and machinery products are expected to grow by 8 percent. Slower growth is expected for primary metals at 4 percent.

This group of manufacturing industries is sure to see change in coming years as technology improves tools and the productive capacity of the workforce. But there’s no doubt we’ll continue to produce and export the metals and metal products that form the foundation of the modern industry.


Our Latest Articles Our Latest Articles

Latest Items