The Pace is Slower in the East: 2014-2024 Employment Projections

by Christopher Rich

July 5, 2016

Every two years, the Oregon Employment Department's Research Division calculates 10-year industry and occupational employment projections. These projections are produced for Oregon and its nine local workforce areas as well as several sub-regions. The recently released 2014 to 2024 projections show slow growth in Eastern Oregon, which is comprised of three sub-regions; the Northeast (Baker, Union, Wallowa), the Southeast (Malheur, Harney), and the Columbia Basin (Grant, Morrow, Umatilla).

Twelve broad industry super-sectors are expected to add 4,200 jobs and self-employment is expected to rise by 300 to bring total employment in Eastern Oregon to 78,500 by 2024. This 6 percent rate of growth is the slowest among the nine workforce areas where growth ranges from 6 to 15 percent, but it is in line with two areas of comparable total employment: the Northwest (Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, Tillamook) and the Southwest (Coos, Curry, Douglas), where growth is expected to be 7 percent.
The largest gains for Eastern Oregon should come in health care and are driven by an aging population and the Affordable Care Act. Private educational and health services looks to add 900 jobs over the period with most of this employment concentrated in health services, mainly in hospitals and ambulatory health care facilities.

Natural resources, mining, and construction is another hot spot for Eastern Oregon with expected growth of 700 jobs by 2024. While construction is part of this group, construction should see the least of the gains. Instead, the majority of growth for the industry (500 jobs) is expected in natural resources in the Columbia Basin, where cattle ranching and farming, other crop farming, and support activities for crop production are on the rise.

Leisure and hospitality, and retail trade are two major contributors to the area's employment and should add 400 jobs and 300 jobs respectively to Eastern Oregon's economy. The Southeast is expected to shed 20 retail trade jobs while gaining in leisure and hospitality. The Northeast and the Columbia Basin are expected to gain in both retail and in hospitality.

The federal government is projected to drop employment in all three sub-regions by a total of 100 jobs, while state government should climb by 100. Local government is projected to add 300 jobs, mainly in education.

Whether growing or shrinking, all broad industries provide employment opportunities for job seekers. Demand is clear in some industries such as health care, however even slow growth sectors like financial activities and declining industries like federal government still offer job opportunities due to retiring workers and turnover.

This article should serve to highlight the recently released industry data. Future articles will explore more detailed analysis to see just where employment opportunities exist in Eastern Oregon.

To see the complete industry and occupational employment projections for Eastern Oregon, its sub-regions, or other areas in Oregon, visit, click on Publications, and under the Employment Projections find your area of interest.

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