Oregon’s Industry Mix Offers a Variety of Employment Opportunities

by Annette Shelton-Tiderman

March 27, 2018

Identifying Oregon’s largest industries depends on whether you’re looking at the number of workers, the total payroll of the sector, or the average annual wage of workers. The chart below shows the footprints of the state’s industries. The top five employing industries are trade, transportation, and utilities (18.4% of the state’s workforce); government (15.5%); private education and health services (14.1%); professional and business services (12.9%); and leisure and hospitality (10.8%). However, on the basis of total payroll generated by each industry, Oregon’s top five industries are professional and business services (17.0% of the state’s total payroll); government (16.5%); trade, transportation, and utilities (15.4%); private education and health services (14.1%); and manufacturing (13.9%).
The size of each bubble corresponds to the average annual wage paid to that industry’s workers. Although the information sector employs the fewest workers of all industries, the average annual wage is $75,310. Manufacturing, which ranks sixth in employment and fifth in total payroll, pays an annual average wage of $67,493. Leisure and hospitality ranks fifth in jobs but reflects the seasonal and often part-time nature of employment; the industry has the lowest average wage ($20,165).

Depending on which part of the state you’re focusing on, that region may have a vastly different economy from an area across the state. You can find more analysis covering specific areas of Oregon by visiting www.QualityInfo.org and clicking your preferred region on the Oregon map.

Comparing Oregon with the U.S.

Depending on where you are in the state, businesses and residents offer differing opinions as to the key industry sectors forming the economic foundation of the state. Using employment and wage data submitted by business tax records, it is possible to identify Oregon’s industry mix.

Yet, how does Oregon compare with other states or the nation with respect to the footprint of specific industries? Do Oregon’s natural resource-based businesses account for more employment in the state than the nation? Or, does manufacturing or perhaps leisure and hospitality employ a greater percentage of people than the U.S.? It is difficult to compare Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment of nearly 1.9 million to the nation’s 145.2 million jobs. However, by comparing the percentage of employment in each industry sector for the state and the percentages for the nation, it is possible to compare the size and potential impact of each sector with respect to other geographies. These comparisons are referred to as location quotients and are used as a rough indicator of a region’s relative concentration in that industry.

The location quotients shown in the table are the ratios of Oregon’s industry employment compared with that of the U.S. Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting have the highest location quotient at 3.04. This value shows that employment in this natural resource-based industry is three times more concentrated in Oregon than the nation as a whole. Manufacturing (location quotient 1.20) is 20 percent more concentrated than the country, which makes this a likely export-oriented industry. Values near and above 1.25 are associated with export industries; values near or below 0.75 indicate industries that likely struggle to keep up with local demand. With respect to Oregon, utilities, and mining and related business ventures are poised to draw needed resources from outside the state.


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