Posted by: Josh Lehner | March 1, 2016

Regional Employment Update, Dec ’15

The latest monthly employment report released this morning, and more importantly the revisions to 2015 data, continues to show Oregon’s labor market is growing at full-throttle rates. Over the past two years, these gains have spread across the entire state. Today, all regions within Oregon are not only adding jobs, but at rates comparable to past economic expansions. In fact, Bend, Corvallis, Portland, Salem and the North Coast are adding jobs as fast as these regions ever have in the past 40 years.

While every region is currently growing briskly, their economic performances over the Great Recession do differ considerably.


Today four regions – the Columbia River Gorge, Northeast Oregon, Portland Metro and Central Oregon – are at historic highs in terms of employment. Each has regained its recessionary losses and added additional jobs as well.

Three regions – the North Coast, Willamette Valley and Rogue Valley – have all nearly regained their lost jobs due to the Great Recession. At the current pace of growth, each region will reach historic levels of employment by late spring or early summer.

Finally, both the Southeastern and Southwestern regions of the state have yet to fully partake in the expansion. Both suffered double-digit job losses followed by a few years of no gains. Only in the past two years has job growth returned. Both regions today have approximately as many jobs as they did back in the early- to mid-1990s. Looking forward, both regions do have educational attainment that is approximately in-line with rural America at large, which should bode well.

County level data for January 2016 plus revisions to the 2015 data will be released next week (March 8th). The above is excerpted from our office’s latest economic and revenue forecast.

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