Posted by: Josh Lehner | September 23, 2014

Central Oregon, Sept 2014 Edition

This post continues with our regular series on the regions within Oregon. For more, see the regional tab at the top of the page.

Central Oregon, situated in the hub of the state, has experienced tremendous population growth in recent decades, helping drive the regional economy.


These gains are not only tied to housing and related industries – which are strong in Central Oregon – but also a much higher rate of self-employment. In a region that has generally had an unemployment rate higher than the state and nation, in addition to a lower labor force participation rate, self-employment, either by choice or by necessity, can go a long way.


Like much of the state, Central Oregon has experienced two severe recessions: the early 80s and the Great Recession. Although the housing bust in the area is the second worst regional downturn in recorded Oregon history (post WWII), trailing only the early 80s downturn in Coos Bay. The good news is following three years of zero job growth from 2009-2011, employment in Central Oregon has increased at nearly a 5 percent rate since.


Some of this growth is fueled by a return of population growth, in particular domestic in-migration, and the increased housing activity that goes along with it. The region is home to about 5 percent of the state’s population but last year it built 16 percent of the state’s single family homes. Given the lack of new construction during the Great Recession and initial part of the recovery, even in a location such as Bend, existing inventory is very low. As population growth has returned, so too has the need and demand for more homes.

CentralPopConstThe region’s demographics skew slightly older. Deschutes and Jefferson have above average shares of under 18 year olds. However all 3 counties have above average shares of the population 65 and older, which is at least partly due to retirement aged in-migrants moving to Central Oregon.

Finally, the top 10 industries in Central Oregon are shown below. These are location quotients for 2013 and measure the relative concentration of these industries.

CentralLQ2013For more on the region, see the Oregon Employment Department’s website for Region 10 and the extensive list of recent articles by regional economist, Damon Runberg. For more on our office’s regional coverage in Oregon, please see here.


  1. […] other major metropolitan areas. We have discussed the Bend population growth vs housing start issue previously. Like Portland and Bend, the other metropolitan areas are seeing lower levels of new construction […]

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