Posted by: Josh Lehner | May 2, 2016

Oregon Manufacturing in Perspective

Just a quick update on Oregon manufacturing and the recovery. A lot of pixels have been written about the so-called manufacturing renaissance and also the growth seen in the oil patch across the nation. Our office included. However, as the oil boom has turned to bust, the regional economies are suffering losses. At least among the goods producing industries in these regions. For example, overall employment trends are still largely positive in Texas, even as the energy sector and related industries contract.

Relative to the start of the Great Recession, manufacturing in the oil patch has outperformed the rest of the nation. However job losses are mounting over the past year. The rest of the nation continues to see continued job gains, although these states have only regained about 1/3 of their recessionary losses.

Then there’s Oregon. We have regained more than half, and nearly 2/3 of our manufacturing job losses. In fact Oregon’s manufacturing sector was adding jobs at a 4 percent pace in recent years. Furthermore, the state’s manufacturing sector is in the same relative position as the oil patch states today.

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What’s driving our positive trends in recent years? Well, pretty much every subsector in manufacturing. It is a broad based manufacturing recovery in Oregon. However only food manufacturing is currently at an all-time high. Most other subsectors, while growing, have yet to fully regain their Great Recession losses.

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All of this is certainly good news for the Oregon economy. However, a couple of notes of caution. The overall outlook remains less bright with the strong dollar and slower global economy. Furthermore manufacturing wages outside of high-tech no longer pay wages substantially above the rate of other industries. However Oregon remains a state that produces goods. Even as manufacturing jobs as a share of the all jobs continues to fall over time, Oregon manufacturing continues to make up a larger and larger share of U.S. manufacturing jobs. This business cycle is no exception.


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