Posted by: Josh Lehner | August 16, 2019

Potpourri Friday: Age Distribution, Portland, and Timber

Three quick charts this week on items I’ve been working on and being asked about during presentations.

First, an updated look at the age distribution in Oregon. Obviously there is variation within these groups, but the combination of the age distribution itself plus migration patterns underpins our previous look at future economic growth across the state. A few things stand out.

Rural Oregon has a higher share of middle-age and older residents. This is no breaking news, but as our office has tried to highlight repeatedly, the demographic drag of retirements on the local labor force is largely about folks aging from their 50s (peak working/income years) to their 70s (vast majority of people are retired). Most rural areas in Oregon are largely through the biggest part of this transition. In the coming decade, the demographic impact is less than it has been in the past decade. Additionally, rural Oregon has proportionately the same number of children as urban Oregon.

Oregon’s secondary metros have a pretty even age distribution. This is partly a composition issue where the differences in each area offset one another. For example, Salem is home to a larger share of children, while Corvallis and Eugene’s 18-24 year old populations are large given the universities. But overall, there are no clear imbalances.

The Portland region attracts 20-something as young adults leaving the nest move to the big city in search of jobs. But Portland’s largest age differences are actually seen among the 60+ age chorts, which are relatively small.

Second, speaking of Portland — and this comes up quite frequently in presentations — the region is effectively half of the state totals. At times discussions can get bogged down into Portland versus the rest of the state and I hesitate to even post this chart, but it’s important to keep our facts straight here. The Portland region — the 5 Oregon counties that are part of the official Portland MSA — accounts for nearly half of Oregon’s population (48%), more than half of the jobs (54%), and a majority of personal income taxes paid by Oregonians (60%). Of course, overall we are one regional economy. Geographic boundaries have no real economic importance. Business to business sales, supply chains, and worker flows are strong across the state and spill across boundaries every single day.

Third, our office keeps receiving inquiries on the timber industry and I think I’ve come up with a new chart that helps drive home at least one of the points we try to highlight. This chart shows timber-related jobs as a share of the local economy and how timber wages compare to the county average wage. At the statewide level, timber jobs pay the same as the average job. However once you get into the heart of the Timber Belt, industry wages remain significantly above average and the sector accounts for a larger share of the local economy. See our previous update for more on the industry, history, and the challenges of replacing these jobs when they’re lost.



  1. […] Source: Potpourri Friday: Age Distribution, Portland, and Timber | Oregon Office of Economic Analysis […]

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