Posted by: Josh Lehner | November 28, 2017

Rural Job Growth Picking Up (Map of the Week)

As our office has been talking a lot about in recent years, Oregon’s economy is slowing. Now, it is still growing. We are adding jobs, seeing income gains and the like. However the pace of growth is slower today than a year or two ago. In fact, job growth has decelerated by a full percentage point over the past two years. This slowing is largely, if not entirely for good reasons. An economy digging out of a recession behaves differently than one approaching full employment. The economy needs to transition down from those peak growth rates to something more sustainable.

All of that said, we are seeing differing regional patterns within the state. One reason is that each regional economy’s business cycle is a bit different in its timing, severity and duration, even as Oregon as a whole follows the national business cycle. A lot of this is due to the local industrial structure.

Today, what we’re seeing is Oregon and most of its large, urban areas slow as they approach full employment. Rural Oregon overall is not slowing to the same extent. Rural Oregon is also further from full employment, but is making progress. In fact, since the spring of 2015, rural Oregon has added jobs at a pretty steady 2 percent annual pace. These gains in rural Oregon outpace what the nation and the typical state have seen over this time period. Encouragingly, as seen in this edition of the Map of the Week, a number of the hardest hit counties and areas of the state are actually seeing a pick-up in growth over the past two years. All counties are also seeing population gains in recent years as well.

What the map shows are the counties with faster job growth today than in 2015 (blue), those with similar growth rates today to what they saw in 2015 (yellow), and those that have decelerated since 2015 (gray). Outside of Linn (Albany MSA), Josephine (Grants Pass MSA), and Columbia (hard hit exurb of the Portland MSA) all of Oregon’s urban counties have held steady or decelerated over the past two years. Just over half of rural counties have seen steady or faster job gains.

Now, not every county or every region has fully recovered from the Great Recession and its aftermath. However growth is improving and the expansion continues. Currently, 35 out of Oregon’s 36 counties are seeing job gains over the past year. And 21 of 36 counties have more jobs today than prior to the Great Recession.


  1. […] Source: Rural Job Growth Picking Up (Map of the Week) […]

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