Ten by Ten: Eastern Oregon Industry Projections, 2017-2027

by Christopher Rich

July 19, 2018

Every two years, the Oregon Employment Department projects how employment will change over the next 10 years. We produce broad level, industry employment projections for Oregon as well as the nine local workforce areas, and even some smaller sub-regions. The recently released 2017-2027 projections show overall employment growth of 10 percent in Eastern Oregon (Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa) by 2027. The private sector is expected to grow 11 percent while the government sector is expected to grow by a more subdued 5 percent.

Employment Growth Is Primarily Private

The private sector accounted for 77 percent of Eastern Oregon’s total payroll employment in 2017. An 11 percent increase in the sector means the addition of 6,400 jobs for the region. Sixty-one percent of these new jobs should materialize in the Columbia Basin (Morrow and Umatilla). Together, Morrow and Umatilla account for roughly half of Eastern Oregon’s population. The two counties have both seen rapid population gains and growing economic activity in recent years. Umatilla in particular is on a path of popularity, gaining more than 8,000 residents (+11%) since 2007. Roughly 2,200 of these new residents relocated to Hermiston, driving the city’s population to 17,985. Hermiston surpassed Pendleton as the most populous city in both Umatilla County and Eastern Oregon in 2010. This bustling regional metropolis appears to be paving the way for opportunity.

The government sector’s growth of 5 percent will bring another 800 jobs to the region. Local government will see the largest growth for the sector (700 jobs) with many of the new jobs in education and health care. State government is expected to add just 100 jobs while federal government will remain unchanged.

Self-employment, which is not included in total payroll employment and generally garners little attention due to the limited amount of available data, is projected to grow 13 percent (500 jobs). This should bring the total number of Eastern Oregon’s self-employed workers to 4,400 by 2027.

More than Two-thirds from the Top Four

Four industries are expected to add 69 percent of all new jobs in Eastern Oregon’s private sector: 57 percent of new jobs overall. Private education and health services is projected to gain 1,300 jobs in the region over the 10-year span. The Columbia Basin and the Eastern Six (Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Union, and Wallowa) will split the growth roughly fifty-fifty. As a broad industry, education and health services is the second largest provider of private-sector employment in Eastern Oregon. A large majority of the industry’s employment is in health services. This portion of the industry is where the majority of new jobs will be concentrated and has already seen marked gains over the last 10 years due to the Affordable Care Act and an aging population.  

The second largest share of growth will come from the region’s largest provider of private employment. Trade, transportation, and utilities is expected to add 1,200 new jobs to the economy by 2027. As a broad industry, this group accounted for 14,500 jobs in 2017. Two-thirds of expected growth will come from the wholesale and retail trade portions of the industry, with the largest share of this from retail trade. The transportation, warehousing, and utilities portion should contribute another 400 jobs to the economy, boosting employment in the sub-group by 10 percent.

The third largest share of growth is projected to come from the region’s fourth largest private industry. Natural resources and mining will add 1,000 jobs in Eastern Oregon with the industry reaching 8,800 jobs by the end of the 10-year period. While this broad industry contains mining and logging, most of the growth is expected in agriculture support activities and in crop and animal production, which already has a large economic footprint in Eastern Oregon.

Manufacturing is expected to grow by 900 jobs for the period, bringing the region’s third largest private industry to 9,400 jobs by 2027. The Columbia Basin should account for just over two-thirds of manufacturing’s growth. While a much larger portion of the Basin’s manufacturing employment is in Umatilla County, Morrow County posted industry growth of roughly 88 percent from 2007 to 2017, adding 810 jobs.
Two Industries Receive Honorable Mention

While the four largest industries above are expected to add the bulk of new jobs in Eastern Oregon’s private sector, just three of them are expected to grow by more than 10 percent. Education and health services will grow by 14 percent, natural resources and mining will grow by 13 percent, and manufacturing will grow by 11 percent. There are however, two other industries in the region projected to grow by over 10 percent as well.

Leisure and hospitality is projected to grow by 13 percent over the next 10 years with a sizeable gain of 800 jobs. Restaurants and other eating places will serve up most of these jobs as population growth, tourism, and overall economic activity sets the table for expansions and entrepreneurs.
The construction industry should build on regional trends such as in-migration of older residents and a strong economy, both of which continue to boost existing home sales, shrink the supply of an aging housing stock, and elevate home prices. In turn, this should drive demand for general construction projects and also nudge buyers toward new construction. Construction is expected to grow 20 percent (500 jobs) by 2027.

Download the Workbook

It’s important to remember that Eastern Oregon’s economy is unlikely to align perfectly with these employment projections over the next 10 years. This is one reason we update the projections every two years as more information becomes available. To see the complete industry breakdown for Eastern Oregon and its two sub-regions, download the Eastern Oregon Industry Employment Projections, 2017-2027 Excel workbook at Qualityinfo.org. You can also download the occupational projections workbook, which I’ll be discussing soon,


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