Posted by: Josh Lehner | December 23, 2013

Portland Metro

This post continues with our quarterly rotating series on the regions within Oregon (see the tab at the top of the page). In the December forecast document, our office covered the Portland Metro and Willamette Valley.

The five counties that comprise the Oregon-portion of the Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area are home to 47 percent of Oregon residents and 53 percent of the statewide jobs and personal income. Thus making the area the state’s largest and most vibrant economic region.

The Metro overall has a very diverse industrial basis compared with other large cities across the country and  similar to the U.S. as a whole. Portland has a larger share of jobs in goods-producing industries like construction and manufacturing, plus wholesale trade, but relatively fewer in retail trade, education and health services and the public sector. When it comes to the local industry structure relative to the state, the Portland Metro’s top 10 industries are as follows. It is important to point out that location quotients compare relative concentrations by industry and not the aggregate size. For example, there are not many Petroleum and Coal Manufacturing jobs in the state (a little more than 400), however almost all of them are in the Portland Metro, which results in a high location quotient for the industry.


Over much of the past 30 years, the region has outperformed the state and national economies. The strong growth during the 1990s was largely due to the ramp-up of the high-tech sector and the influx of migrants to the region. The 2001 recession hit Portland much harder than Oregon overall due to the concentration of these same high-tech jobs and the regional unemployment rate remained high for years to come. The Portland Metro experienced the housing roller coaster ride during the 2000s and lost 8 percent of its jobs during the Great Recession. So far in recovery, Portland has led Oregon’s job growth and has nearly regained all of its lost jobs.



The region is also home to a relatively larger concentration of high-wage jobs than the state overall. Plus a lower relative share of low-wage jobs. These trends are part of the overall job polarization process, part of which is the creation of high-wage jobs predominately in metropolitan areas. While no region is immune to the loss of middle-wage jobs, larger cities do generally accrue the most positive parts of polarization, chiefly these newly created high-wage jobs.



  1. […] (see the tab at the top of the page). In the December forecast document, our office covered the Portland Metro and Willamette […]

  2. […] the Columbia Gorge has regained all of its recessionary losses, although the Portland Metro is very close. In terms of largest improvement, Central Oregon has made up the most lost ground, […]

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