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Chapter 4: Economy—A few facts about Portland’s economy since 1980

This section provides a few facts about changes in the Portland, regional and state economy since 1980.
 
Economic Sectors
 
State Exports
In 2005, total industrial exports for Oregon totaled $12.4 billion. The top export sectors were:
 
Computer and electronics products
37.2% 
Metals, machinery and transportation equipment 
28.9% 
Agricultural products 
12.0% 
 
Paper and wood products, once major exports, each contributed 2.8% of the state’s exports in 2005.
 
Industry Structure
The Oregon economy has had significant structural shifts in its employment base between 1980 and 2000, as the manufacturing sector’s share of total jobs in the state declined from 23 to 16 percent and the service sector’s share climbed from 16 to 26 percent. However, the share of the gross state product in the manufacturing sector remained at a steady 25 percent, indicating job loss due to productivity gains rather than a relative decline of manufacturing in the state economy. The focus of production within the manufacturing sector shifted from a dominant wood products industry in 1980 to a dominant high tech electronics industry in 2000.
 
 
Industry Share of Gross State Product
 
Industry Share of State Employment
 
Industry
1977
1997
Gain
(Loss)
1977
1997
Gain
(Loss)
Total private industries
87.3%
87.6%
0.3%
81.2%
85.1%
3.9%
Agriculture, forestry, fishing
3.1%
2.7%
-0.4%
 
3.0%
 
Construction
5.4%
5.5%
0.1%
4.8%
5.4%
0.6%
Manufacturing
24.8%
24.7%
-0.1%
23.2%
16.0%
-7.2%
Durable goods
19.2%
20.7%
1.5%
 
 
 
Lumber and wood products
11.3%
2.9%
-8.4%
8.9%
3.5%
-5.5%
Electronic equipment
0.5%
12.1%
11.6%
0.5%
2.3%
1.7%
Nondurable goods
5.6%
4.0%
-1.6%
 
 
 
Transportation, communications, and utilities
9.6%
7.2%
-2.4%
5.2%
4.7%
-0.5%
Wholesale trade
7.5%
7.8%
0.3%
6.5%
6.2%
-0.4%
Retail trade
9.7%
8.3%
-1.4%
18.9%
18.6%
-0.2%
Finance, insurance, and real estate
15.2%
14.2%
-1.0%
5.4%
5.4%
0.0%
Services
11.9%
17.1%
5.2%
16.4%
25.6%
9.3%
Government
12.7%
12.4%
-0.3%
18.8%
14.9%
-3.9%
Sources: Gross State Product from U.S. Economic Census; Covered Employment from Oregon Employment Department
 
Similar to state trends, Multnomah County and the Portland metro area have had structural shifts in their employment bases, as the manufacturing sector’s share of total jobs declined by 5-6 percentage points between 1980 and 2000 and the share in the service sector climbed by about 10 percent. Still, the number (not share) of metro area manufacturing jobs increased by 18 percent in those decades, compared to a 9-percent loss of manufacturing jobs nationwide. Industrial sector employment is also changing as distribution jobs in Multnomah County become more plentiful than manufacturing jobs. While Oregon experienced a major shift in manufacturing from wood products to electronics over the past 25 years, in Multnomah County manufacturing has focused on the integrated "metals and equipment" cluster.
 
Employment Trends in Multnomah County and the Portland Metro area—1980–2000
 
   
Covered Employment
Annual Growth Rate*
Gain (Loss) in Share, 1980-2000
   
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
Multnomah County
Manufacturing
52,804
43,424
50,176
50,334
51,732
0.2% 
 
  % of all jobs
15.8%
13.6%
13.4%
12.1%
11.4%
 
-4.4%
Wood products
3,324
2,514
2,248
1,760
1,818
-3.3%
 
  % of all jobs
1.0%
0.8%
0.6%
0.4%
0.4%
 
 
Electronics
1,938
2,185
2,141
2,294
4,784
4.8%
 
  % of all jobs
0.6%
0.7%
0.6%
0.4%
1.1%
 
 
Metals and equipment
26,093
19,172
23,363
23,033
23,892
0.0%
 
  % of all jobs
7.8%
6.0%
6.2%
5.5%
5.3%
 
 
Distribution**
48,319
44,729
49,149
54,821
55,979
1.0%
 
  % of all jobs
14.4%
14.0%
13.1%
13.2%
12.4%
 
-2.1%
Services
70,020
77,488
105,556
121,880
139,945
3.8%
 
  % of all jobs
20.9%
24.2%
28.1%
29.4%
30.9%
 
10.0%
All Sectors
334,766
319,583
375,768
415,113
453,254
1.8%
 
Metro Area***
Manufacturing
108,320
95,584
107,006
115,870
128,275
1.1%
 
  % of all jobs
21.0%
18.6%
16.8%
15.8%
15.1%
 
-5.9%
Electronics
7,779
9,313
12,089
18,613
27,916
8.2%
 
  % of all jobs
1.5%
1.8%
1.9%
2.5%
3.3%
 
 
Distribution**
61,962
63,457
77,618
89,754
97,738
2.6%
 
  % of all jobs
12.0%
12.4%
12.2%
12.2%
11.5%
 
-0.5
Services
96,427
110,605
158,727
195,242
240,178
5.2%
 
  % of all jobs
18.7%
21.6%
24.9%
26.6%
28.3%
 
9.6%
All Sectors
515,277
512,812
637,618
733,896
849,075
2.8%
 
* Average annual growth rate was calculated using straight-line regression (Excel trend line) analysis of 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, and 2000 data.
** Distribution includes transportation and wholesale trade.
*** Metro area data shown here includes the Oregon portion of the MSA and does not include Clark County. Sources: Bureau of Planning calculations from Oregon Employment Department data.
 
Overall Employment Growth
 
Between 1980 and 2005, Oregon employment has grown by 63%, from 1,016,000 to 1,653,000 jobs. Since 1980, Oregon has experienced two major and one minor decline in employment, each around the decade marks.
 
 
Since 1970, the number of jobs in the 7-county Portland metropolitan statistical area has grown from around 400,000 to well over 900,000. Metro projects that the area will have over 1.6 million jobs by 2035.
 
Since 1980, the number of jobs in Multnomah County has grown from about 335,000 to about 428,000 jobs in 2005. (OED)
 
 
Unemployment Rates
 
Over the past few decades, unemployment in Portland and Oregon has been better than the national average during strong economic times and has been worse than the national average during recessions.
 
 
In 2005, it is estimated that 20% of Oregonians working part-time wanted full-time work, but could not find it (OCPP).
 
 
In 2005, the Portland area had the lowest unemployment rate, compared to other parts of the state.
 
 
Earnings
 
According to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, it took until the year 2000 for Oregonians to achieve real earnings comparable to those in 1973. Since then, real income has dropped.
 
 
During the downturn in the early 2000, median household income dropped by over $4,000. Income trends are now improving; however in 2003 and 2004, earnings for the lowest 60% of Oregon workers went down, while earnings for the highest 40% increased. From 2000 to 2003, average earnings for workers in the Portland metro area dropped three percent. (OCPP)
 
LINKS
QUESTIONS
  • What are the land use and transportation implications of shifts in job sectors?
  • What might changing income distribution mean for public services and planning?
SOURCES
  • Oregon Employment Development
  • Oregon Center for Public Policy

 
 
 
 

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