Posted by: Josh Lehner | September 28, 2017

REPORT: Portland in Transition

The new Census data shows that the recovery and expansion has now reached all corners of the Oregon economy. Not all industries, segments of the population, or regions are in the same place given each regional business cycle was a bit different. However, we are now seeing gains across the board. The trajectory, at a minimum, is pointing in the right direction.

One place where the improvements really stand out is in the Portland metro area. It makes sense given job growth returned first to the large metros across the country, so they have been in expansion the longest. That said, when stepping back and looking at the business cycle as a whole, and comparing the 100 largest metro areas in the country, the gains in the Portland region are considerable. Portland’s growth has been transformational, and not just when it comes to the apartment boom in the urban core. To date, it is clear that Portland is transitioning as it pulls away from its former economic peers.

Below is a short, high level summary of these findings along with a more complete slide deck for those interested.




  1. […] Source: REPORT: Portland in Transition | Oregon Office of Economic Analysis […]

  2. This is great stuff, Josh!! I love what you report!! We will use this info when we are in Brooklyn to chat about comparators!

    • Thanks Randy; appreciate the kind words! Let me know if you need anything else.

  3. As positive as all this sounds, all good things eventually come to an end, and I cannot help but remember that in the Great Recession, the most sizzling hot metros fell the furthest and the fastest. A little easing off of the gas pedal might not be a bad thing. And speaking of gas pedal, the traffic has really become pretty unbearable.

    • Thanks Bill. I largely agree. We’ve already eased off as the economy approaches full employment. Growth has slowed over the past 18 months, even traffic has stopped climbing too (gas prices matter a lot there too). Clearly this cycle is different than the last, but the general patterns do repeat. It is always tough to be completely sure how much of the gains will be remain following the next downturn. But adding a lot more, smart, young folks is always a good thing for regional economic development. The PNW gets that, and has served the region well for decades.

  4. […] economies ahead of others depending upon the nature of the business cycle. As we document in our new research report, Portland has been Top 5 for high-wage job growth, rising levels of educational attainment, and […]

  5. […] Portland in transition | Josh […]

  6. Josh – I’m hopeful that this is different, but a couple of things:
    1) We have low unemployment, but as far as I can tell no wage inflation
    2) We can’t seem to attract large high-wage employers and Nike/Intel have me worried about their growth
    3) How many of these high-wage jobs are for coding or high-tech? Was in the high-tech biz and venture investment goes thru some extreme cycles.

    In any case, I do enjoy reading your articles.

  7. […] Portland has pulled away from its former economic peers” among large U.S. metro areas, writes Josh Lehner, an economist in the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. Among those “former” peers (in GDP) […]

  8. […] economies ahead of others depending upon the nature of the business cycle. As we document in our new research report, Portland has been Top 5 for high-wage job growth, rising levels of educational attainment, and […]

  9. […] this backdrop, my brief remarks touch on Portland’s transformational growth in the past decade, but primarily focus on medium- and long-run expectations for population growth. […]

  10. […] Every economic boom has an engine- a dynamic force that drives the trend. According to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, one of the major reasons for the growth is the preponderance of educated young people moving to the city. Whereas other major metropolises attract young people with anchor employers (i.e. Minneapolis-St. Paul’s heavy concentration of Corporate World Headquarters) or professional options (e.g. Chicago, San Francisco, etc.), the OOEA believes Portland’s rising young adult class is largely self-directed. 6 […]

  11. […] nation. Portland’s is getting up there and the increases in the past decade are part of the transformative growth experienced this cycle. Bend is now better than three-fourths of all U.S. metros. And both the North Coast and Gorge have […]

  12. […] economies were the first to return to growth and recover. Even beyond these general patterns, Portland’s growth has been transformational as it outpaced all but a few other metro areas in terms of things like increases in educational […]

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