Year in Review 2018: Benton County

by Pat O'Connor

April 29, 2019

Revised payroll employment estimates for 2018 show that Oregon’s job growth slowed from its growth in 2017.

On an annual average basis, Oregon’s payroll employment grew 32,400 jobs or 1.8 percent in 2018. That compares with a gain of 41,700 jobs or 2.3 percent in 2017.

Benton County followed Oregon’s lead, showing slower job growth in 2018. Benton County’s payroll employment was up 0.8 percent in 2018. The county’s total nonfarm employment increased 360 jobs in 2018 after adding 1,620 jobs or 3.9 percent in 2017.
Benton County’s employment is now far past its pre-recession employment peak. Benton County’s annual 2018 total employment was 4,870 jobs or more than 12 percent above the annual employment in 2008, before the Great Recession hit the economy.

In 2018, Benton County’s private-sector employment grew 480 or 1.7 percent. Public-sector employment was down 130 or 0.8 percent. There were significant changes at the industry level.

Manufacturing in Benton County experienced the largest private-sector employment losses during the Great Recession, but the industry has been adding employment in recent years. In 2017, manufacturing employment added 20 jobs or 0.7 percent. Manufacturing employment continued to grow in 2018, adding 190 jobs or 6.8 percent.

Mining, logging, and construction showed the fastest employment growth in Benton County. The sector added 120 jobs to grow 9.0 percent in 2018.

Information is a sector that has continued to lose employment in recent years. After shedding nearly 100 jobs from 2014 to 2016, information actually added 10 jobs (1.8%) in 2017 and then shed 10 jobs (-1.7%) in 2018. Information includes businesses such as newspaper publishers, cable providers, telecommunication providers, and internet service providers.

Leisure and hospitality added employment in both 2017 and 2018, gaining 50 jobs each year.

Private educational and health services added 300 jobs or 4.5 percent in 2017 and added 210 jobs or 3.0 percent in 2018.

Professional and business services showed the largest employment decline in 2018, shedding 180 jobs or 4.0 percent in 2018. That follows a gain of 170 jobs or 3.9 percent in 2017.  

The public sector as a whole shed employment in 2018, but employment growth varied significantly between the three branches. Local government added 90 jobs (0.6%) in 2018. State government employment shed 210 jobs (-50%) in 2018. The drop in state government jobs is caused by the reclassification of approximately 190 home care workers from state government to private-sector health care and social assistance.  

Local government added 200 jobs to grow 1.5 percent in 2018. One thing worth noting is that in 2017 Oregon State University’s employment was shifted and is now reported within local government education. Traditionally, OSU’s employment was reported in state government education.

Benchmarking Process

The newly revised payroll employment numbers are the result of the annual benchmarking process. This revision process is conducted by Oregon Employment Department staff in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment numbers for both 2017 and 2018 are revised. For the monthly data through September 2018, original survey-based estimates were replaced with universe employment counts from the Unemployment Insurance tax system. Numbers from October through December 2018 were then re-estimated using sample employment data from a survey of businesses.

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