Rogue Valley High-Tech Employment

Rogue Valley High-Tech Employment

by Guy Tauer

April 19, 2016

The Rogue Valley didn't see much improvement in total high tech employment during the first part of the recovery from the Great Recession. Comparable data back to 2010 showed little change from 2010 to 2013. In 2014, overall high tech employment rose by about 150 jobs. Due to confidentiality, it is not possible to provide additional detail on what specific industries contributed to the over-the-year increase.

Defining High Tech

Oregon's high-tech industry does not have one standard definition or official government code. Instead, it is a mix of service and manufacturing businesses from a variety of industries. High tech means different things to different people and organizations.

Prior to 2013, the Oregon Employment Department (OED) defined high tech as three computer-related North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes: computer and electronic product manufacturing (NAICS 334), systems design and related services (NAICS 5415), and software publishing (NAICS 5112).

In 2013, OED decided to change its definition to include a broader array of industries in which high-tech occupations are highly concentrated. As such, its newest high-tech "list" is a better, more comprehensive view of industries that produce innovative, technologically advanced products and services. The 11 industries comprising this definition are listed in the table. It also corresponds with the definition currently used nationally by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. High-tech firms are found all over the state although they are most concentrated in its largest metropolitan areas: Portland, Eugene, Medford, and Bend. They also have a presence along the Oregon coast, the Interstate 5 corridor, and in northeastern Oregon near Interstate 84.

Rogue Valley High-Tech Industries

High tech accounts for 6 percent of private-sector employment statewide. Employment in this industry is six times more concentrated in Oregon than it is nationally. Just over 2 percent of payroll employment in the Rogue Valley is in the high-tech industry group. In the Rogue Valley, there are about 290 businesses that had payroll jobs defined as high tech in 2014. In Jackson County, total high-tech payroll was $116 million with average pay per job at $62,230. Josephine County had $21 million total payroll with average annual pay at $60,846.

In the Rogue Valley, of the detailed industry data available, architectural, engineering and related services, and computer system design and related services each had about 12 percent of total high-tech employment. At $47,573 and $67,598, respectively, annual average wages are in the higher-wage range. Software publishers accounted for about one out of 10 Rogue Valley high-tech jobs in 2014. This was also a high-paying industry with annual average wages of $71,184. Semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing is a relatively small share of the Rogue Valley's high-tech economy, with only 0.2 percent of total payroll employment. It's a relatively larger share in Oregon statewide, at nearly 2 percent of payroll jobs. In other words, just about 140 of the state's 27,000 jobs in that industry are in Jackson County. Data are not published for Josephine. Wages in the broader computer and electronic manufacturing industry are higher paying in the Rogue Valley, at an annual average of $56,216. But local wages lag greatly behind the statewide figure of $126,815 in that industry.

While Southern Oregon represents a fairly small slice of the state's 90,000 high-tech jobs, employment is rising in many components and those high-paying jobs are a benefit to the region.