Posted by: Josh Lehner | February 22, 2019

Fun Friday: Eds and Meds

Yesterday we took a quick look at industry growth and volatility in Oregon. Two sectors really stood out for their strong gains and stability: education and health. Both have risen twice as fast or more than total employment in Oregon in recent decades. However there is a clear reason for these gains: demographics. When you adjust education and health employment for population the exceptional growth doesn’t look so exceptional. In fact it looks downright mundane. A growing population with an increasing share of retirees, and rising rates of educational attainment means we need more workers serving these groups.

Now, one tangent I find interesting/perplexing/depressing is when communities, usually smaller and/or rural, do market analyses about growth opportunities, the consultants always come back with the same answer. That is they should try and turn themselves into a hub for tourism, health care, or education. This is somewhat of a circular reference, however. The sectors that are growing pretty much everywhere are health care (people age in every county) and leisure and hospitality (people go out to eat and travel). However this largely reflects sectoral shifts.

Building a broader cluster or hub around these industries is possible, but it is not replicable in every community. There can be assisted living facilities everywhere, and even hospitals in many places, but only one or two can have a Level IV or V Trauma Center. Colleges and Universities are great but only a handful exist in each state. Similarly every community cannot be a tourism hub. Historically it has worked well for Bend and Hood River, but that means it is more difficult for surrounding communities given their close proximity. And communities further from highways and airports face logistical challenges even if the outdoor recreation opportunities are stellar. It is not quite a winner takes all scenario, there are agglomeration effects, but it is also not entirely symbiotic either. And all of this is before digging into the types of jobs created, their wages and the like. /rant


  1. […] Source: Fun Friday: Eds and Meds | Oregon Office of Economic Analysis […]

  2. […] not tech, what? As discussed before, many consultant studies point toward health care and tourism as growth opportunities for rural […]

  3. […] decades, and have proven more stable than the overall economy. However much of these gains are simply keeping pace with population growth. We have yet to see these facilities and workforce stressed with a large outbreak, and a sizable […]

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