2022 Columbia Gorge Payroll Growth: From First to Last

by Dallas Fridley

July 11, 2023

Gilliam County led Oregon’s 2022 payroll growth (all industries and ownerships), achieving an over-the-year increase of 24.6%. At the other end of the spectrum, Wasco County’s payroll growth ranked 36th or last among Oregon counties, rising by just 2.2%. In between first and last, Wheeler County’s 16.2% payroll gain ranked third, followed by Sherman County’s 6.9% (24th). Hood River County’s payroll growth ranked 34th – rising by just 3.2%. Despite the strong performances from Gilliam and Wheeler counties, payrolls in the five-county region rose by only 3.7% or $49.3 million to reach $1.371 billion – well below Oregon’s 7.3% increase.

Gilliam County

Gilliam County’s fortune can be described with one word: Solar – as in Oregon’s largest solar project, Pachwáywit Fields (aka Montague Solar), which began construction in 2021 and went online in April 2023. Large projects of this nature often tip the disclosure scale for construction into confidential territory – as was the case in 2022. Gilliam County’s total payroll growth ranked first in Oregon, rising by 24.6% in 2022 to reach $10.9 million.

Gilliam County’s private industry payroll rose by $10 million (+28.8%) in 2022 to reach $44.7 million. On the public side, government rose to $10.6 million, an increase of $0.9 million or 9.7%.
Graph showing 2022 all ownerships payroll growth

Wasco County

Wasco County’s total payroll increased by just 2.2% or $12.3 million in 2022, rising to $582.3 million. On the private industry side, pay rose by a scant 0.6% or $2.6 million to reach $460.4 million. Government payrolls impressed, rising by 8.6% or $9.6 million, pushing its total to $121.9 million.

Information made a sizeable dent in private-industry payrolls, with a loss of $18.7 million (-23.5%) cutting its total to $60.9 million. Private education and health services also pulled back in 2022, cutting its payrolls by $1.2 million (-1.0%). Construction led Wasco County’s 2022 private industry payroll growth, rising by $9.5 million or 49.3% to $28.9 million. Leisure and hospitality also performed well, increasing its payroll by $4.9 million or 17.9% to reach $32.5 million.

Wheeler County

Wheeler County’s total payroll rose to $11.8 million in 2022, an increase of $1.6 million or 16.2%. Wheeler County’s payroll growth ranked third in Oregon, just behind second place Crook County’s 24.6% payroll gain.

Private-industry payrolls impressed, rising by $1.4 million or 24.2% to total $7 million. Leisure and hospitality led Wheeler County’s private industry payroll growth in 2022, rising by $0.3 million (+78.8). Trade, transportation, and utilities (+$0.3 million) and private education and health services (+$0.2 million) also performed well.

Sherman County

Sherman County had its pluses and minuses – with private-sector payroll growth making up for government losses. Private industry increased its payroll by $4.1 million or 13.7% in 2022 to total $33.9 million. A small increase in local government payroll wasn’t enough to offset losses in both state and federal government, leading to a drop of $0.6 million or 3.0% for the public sector. Taken together, Sherman County’s total payroll rose by 6.9% across all ownerships to total $53.5 million.

Trade, transportation, and utilities led private industry payroll growth in 2022, rising by $3.2 million or 25.4% to $15.9 million. Heavy losses in professional and business services drained its payrolls by $1.2 million (-38.1%). Government had its own problems, cutting payrolls by $0.6 million in 2022 with losses in federal and state government and limited growth in local.

Hood River County

Hood River County’s payroll rose to $668.1 million in 2022, an increase of $20.6 million or 3.2%. Ranking 34th out of 36 Oregon counties, Hood River’s issues rested with professional and business services, which cut its payrolls by $16.4 million (-15.7%). Natural resources and mining also cut payrolls, falling to $68.2 million, a loss of $3.5 million or 4.8%. Private industry still managed a 2022 payroll gain of $15.3 million or 2.7%. Government surpassed private industry’s tepid growth by a wide margin, rising by $5.3 million or 7.2% in 2022 to reach $79.3 million.

Leisure and hospitality led Hood River County’s private-industry payroll growth in 2022, rising to $67.5 million, an increase of $9.6 million (+16.6%). Education and health services also impressed, increasing its payroll by $9.3 million or 9.5%.

Latest Items

Subscription Service

You can sign up to receive email notifications when publications have been updated or new articles are added for any geographic area you are interested in. You can receive new articles on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule – whichever is most convenient for you.

Visit the subscription order form to sign up. It allows you to choose your preferences, and you can change those preferences – or unsubscribe – at any time.