Oregon’s Company Headquarters: Strong Growth and High Wages

by Amy Vander Vliet

July 25, 2019

Oregon is home to just two Fortune 500 firms, but that doesn’t mean headquarters aren’t an important part of our economy. This sector, called ‘management of companies’, provides nearly 50,000 jobs that pay a whopping average wage of $119,200; more than twice the average across all industries. While it makes up just 3 percent of Oregon’s total private-sector employment, it generates 7 percent of total payroll.
(Oregon’s two Fortune 500 companies are Nike, ranked 90th in revenues, and Lithia Motors at 265th).

What exactly do we mean by ‘management of companies’? According to the official definition, these are establishments primarily engaged in “administering, overseeing, and managing other establishments of the company or enterprise.” They typically carry out strategic or organizational planning and decision-making responsibilities.

In other words, these establishments primarily run some or all of company operations. They can be large national headquarters – think Walmart, with roughly 18,000 people working at its Bentonville, Ark. headquarters – or regional managing offices employing fewer than a dozen. Oregon mirrors the United States in that the vast majority of our headquarters are small: three-quarters employ fewer than 20 people. But the majority of jobs are found in larger companies- more so in Oregon than the nation: 43 percent of the state’s employment is in companies with 500-plus employees compared to 38 percent nationally.

Headquarters span a wide variety of industries. In Oregon, they include truck manufacturing (e.g., Daimler); lumber products (Roseburg Forest Products); health care (Kaiser); auto sales (Lithia); utilities (Portland General Electric); and the vacation rental business (Vacasa, Airbnb).

But sportswear dominates. It’s not just Nike, with well over 10,000 employees at its Beaverton global headquarters. Columbia Sportswear, adidas, Keen, and LaCrosse all have administrative operations in Oregon. In total, sportswear headquarters account for more than one-quarter of sector employment.

Trends

After growing at about the same pace as the overall economy (private sector) through the first half of the 2000s, the management of companies sector began to pull away in 2007. Then came the Great Recession. Over the next few years, the state would lose nearly 150,000 jobs; a decline of 8 percent. In contrast, management of companies barely skipped a beat. It shed 1,100 jobs; a decline of just 3 percent. And while it took nearly five years for the overall economy to recover, management of companies rebounded in two years. It hasn’t looked back. Since the end of the recession, it’s grown over one-and-a-half times faster than the rest of the economy.
Post-recession growth has also handily outpaced national trends in this sector. Since mid-2010, Oregon’s headquarters expanded by 43 percent; markedly faster than the nation’s 29 percent growth.

High Wages

Management of companies pays an average wage of $119,200; more than twice the average across all industries ($53,500). It’s not just well-paid CEOs bringing up the average, although that’s undoubtedly a large part of it. The overall mix of jobs is skewed toward high-paying occupations. Five of the 10 largest occupations pay more than $100,000 annually. These five occupations account for 16 percent of the sector’s employment.
Oregon Stands Out

While Oregon certainly doesn’t have the largest headquarters sector in the nation – those honors go to the behemoths of California, Texas, New York, and Ohio – we have one of the highest concentrations of headquarters employment. It accounts for 3.0 percent of total private-sector employment. Only three states are more concentrated: Arkansas (3.3%) with Walmart; Minnesota (3.2%) with 17 Fortune 500 companies including Target and Best Buy; and Rhode Island (3.1%) with CVS and Textron.

The importance of this sector to Oregon’s economy is also reflected in output data. Management of companies contributed 3.2 percent to the state’s gross domestic product in 2018. This is significantly higher than the national average of 1.9 percent, and more than all but three states: Arkansas (4.1%); Minnesota (3.7%), and Rhode Island (3.3%).

In the News

The last few years has seen a flurry of activity in this sector, both from existing companies expanding their Oregon footprint and others relocating here:

  • Nike is in the midst of massive expansion at its Beaverton headquarters and has added 1,400 jobs in the past year. Portland Business Journal 7/23/2019
  • New Zealand-based AskNicely, a software startup, moved its headquarters to Portland. The Oregonian 04/23/2019
  • Diamond WTG Engineering & Services Inc., a California-based wind turbine engineering firm, moved its headquarters to downtown Portland. Portland Business Journal 04/22/2019
  • Twistlock, an online security company, moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. The Oregonian 08/14/2018
  • adidas will more than double the size of its North American headquarters when it adds three buildings at its north Portland campus. It will also increase its local workforce from 1,700 to 2,800 people. The Oregonian 03/22/2018
  • Vacation rental management company Vacasa is expanding its headquarters with a 61,000 square foot lease in Portland’s Pearl District. Portland Business Journal 3/13/2018
  • Rumpl Inc. – a company that makes high performance, puffy blankets – will move its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. Portland Business Journal 11/28/2017
  • Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions, one of the Rogue Valley's largest tech employers, will move its headquarters from California to Medford. Mail Tribune 07/11/2017
  • Superwinch, a Connecticut-based maker of winch systems, is moving its corporate headquarters to Tualatin. Portland Business Journal 02/07/2017
  • Chrome Industries will move its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. It makes messenger bags, apparel, and other gear for cyclists. The Oregonian 01/05/2017

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