Government Employment in Eastern Oregon

by Tony Wendel

July 18, 2022

If we consider government in all its forms (federal, state, and local) as a single industry, it is the largest industry of employment in Eastern Oregon. This is not uncommon for rural areas where economic diversity is not as great as in urban areas. According to the Oregon Employment Department’s Employment and Wages by Industry (QCEW) data for 2021, government accounted for 23.0% of the employment and 28.1% of the wages for the eight counties comprising Eastern Oregon. Statewide, by comparison, government was responsible for 14.2% of employment and 15.5% of wages.

Looking at the eight counties individually, Grant and Harney counties had the highest percentages of employment in government, at 40.3% and 38.8%, respectively. Morrow County was on the low end with government only accounting for 16.5% of employment, much closer to the statewide percentage. This is most likely due to the growth that has taken place at the Port of Morrow in private industry. Government accounted for a whopping 52.1% of wages in Harney County followed by 50.7% in Grant County. Again, Morrow County came in the lowest, at 16.1%. Morrow County was the only county where government accounted for a lower percentage of wages than employment.

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