Year in Review 2018: Salem MSA

by Pat O'Connor

April 16, 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 34,200 jobs or 1.8 percent in 2018. That compares with a gain of 41,700 jobs or 2.3 percent in 2017.

Salem outpaced Oregon’s employment growth in 2018; Salem added 3,800 jobs in 2018 to grow 2.3 percent. In 2017, Salem’s employment growth was slightly slower than the statewide growth rate, adding 3,400 jobs to grow 2.1 percent.

The Salem metro area was similar to Oregon and the nation with the construction and manufacturing sectors showing the steepest losses during the recent recession.

Salem’s construction sector has shown fast growth during the past two years. The sector added 800 jobs (+8.5%) in 2017 which brought Salem’s construction back up to 10,200, matching its employment level in 2007, prior to the Great Recession. Construction showed the largest percentage loss of any sector in Salem during the Great Recession. In 2018, Salem’s construction sector added 1,000 jobs, growing 9.8 percent. Salem’s manufacturing employment has been fairly stable the past two years. The sector added 100 jobs (+0.8%) in 2017 and then shed 100 jobs (-0.8%) in 2018. Within manufacturing in 2018, food manufacturing shed 200 jobs.

Professional and business services recorded healthy employment gains in 2018, adding 700 jobs, or 4.9 percent. The industry added 400 jobs in 2017. Professional and business services includes temporary staffing agencies. The staffing agencies are a bit of a bell-weather industry. The industry is often one of the first to show declining employment as the general economy slows and enters a recession, but on the flip side, it is also typically one of the first industries that will show employment gains when an economy starts to expand.

The Salem MSA’s public-sector employment level was up in 2017 and down in 2018. The public sector shed 1,700 jobs to decline 4.0 percent in 2018. However, that drop in public sector jobs is caused by the reclassification of approximately 1,700 home care workers from state government to private-sector health care and social assistance. That reclassification was the reason for the majority of the 2,700 jobs added in education and health services in 2018.          

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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