Rogue Valley Worker Trends by Race, Ethnicity, and Education

by Guy Tauer

February 15, 2019

The Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics data give us insight into demographic and other attributes, such as education levels, of the workers at the local level. These data show that there were about 12,000 workers with bachelor’s degrees or higher back in 1991. By 2018, there were about 20,500 workers with that level of education. In isolation, this looks like a healthy increase in the Rogue Valley. But if we look at the percentage of total workers in the Rogue Valley with a bachelor’s degree or higher, this shows a nearly identical percent of workers in the Rogue Valley – about 20 percent – consistently from 1991 to 2018.

Oregon overall had a higher share of workers with a bachelor’s degree or greater, at about 27 percent to 29 percent over that time, but really didn’t show any change over that 25+ year period. That’s a little surprising considering the emphasis on more education and all of the “education pays” material showing the correlation between higher levels of income and lower unemployment associated with higher levels of education. The percent of Rogue Valley workers with some college or an associate’s degree rose very slightly from 1991 to 2018, from about 32 percent to almost 34 percent.
One disquieting figure is the percent of the area’s workers who have less than a high school level of education. About 11.5 percent of the Rogue Valley’s workers in 1991 had less than high school level of education. By early 2018, that figure increased to about 14 percent.

If we haven’t altered our mix of workers by education level very much in the past 27 or so years, what about the ethnic and racial distribution? The largest change in the composition of the local workforce since 1991 is the rising share of Hispanic/ Latino workers, rising from about 2,550 to almost 13,600 in the first quarter of 2018. This group’s share of total workers climbed from just less than 4 percent to about 12 percent between 1991 and 2018.
The Rogue Valley, and Oregon for that matter, doesn’t have a very racially diverse pool of workers. In the U.S. about 9 percent of workers identified as Hispanic or Latino in 1993. By 2017, workers identifying as Hispanic or Latino had reached almost 19 percent of total workers nationwide compared with 12 percent for Oregon. Looking at the U.S. distribution of workers by race, the share of workers that identified as white alone declined from about 85 percent in 1993 to 77 percent in 2017. In 2017, workers who identify as black or African American comprised about 3 percent of Oregon’s workers, a much lower share than the nation, where just over 13 percent of all workers were black or African American. Oregon had a slightly higher share of workers who identified as Asian, 6.5 percent compared with 5.1 percent for the U.S. Oregon had a slightly smaller share of workers in other racial categories than the nation.

In the Rogue Valley, about 92 percent of workers are “white alone” compared with Oregon’s overall 87 percent “white alone” share of workers. In the Rogue Valley, the share of workers identifying as “white alone” declined from 96 percent in 1991. The share of other racial groups rose slightly. The share of black or African American workers rose from 0.4 percent to 1.5 percent in early 2018. American Indian or Alaska Native alone was up very slightly from 1.2 percent in 1991 to 1.5 percent in 2018. The share of Asian alone workers doubled from 1.0 percent to 2.2 percent in 2018. Native Hawaiian or other pacific islanders’ share of workers was just 0.4 percent in 2018, but a greater share than in 1991 when that group comprised just 0.1 percent of Rogue Valley workers.

For more information, go to https://qwiexplorer.ces.census.gov/static/explore.html#x=0&g=0.


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