Workforce, Jobs, and Industries

The region has a complex job and employment base with varied levels of skills and educational attainment that may or may not reflect the needs of current and emerging industries. The types of jobs in the region have changed over the past few decades, with a robust timber industry (see Food Access and Agriculture for more details) being replaced with service and professional jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the highest-paying jobs are in the manufacturing and information sectors.

A review of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) top-level private-sector industry data for the region shows that the service-producing industries employ the most people, with an average annual wage of $33,829. The top category by number of jobs — Trade, Transportation, and Utilities — includes all retail trade, wholesale trade, transportation, and warehousing. The highest average annual pay, however, is in manufacturing ($61,166), which accounts for 7.5 percent of the jobs in the region.

Download this
section as a PDF

 Web-Only Content

Visit for information from the State of Oregon Employment Department about job vacancies in Northwest Oregon and the Willamette Valley, including difficult-to-fill vacancies. Data are not available on a county level.

Peer Regions Jobs and Wages

The retail trade industry employs a large number of people, making the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities industry the largest employment category among all regions. However, looking further at the distribution of employment and wages among our peer regions begins to reveal structural differences in employment among our region’s peers.

Educational Attainment

Our region is ahead of the peer regions and slightly lower than the national average for the percentage of the population age 25 and older that has a Bachelor’s degree. We are closely aligned with the nation in terms of the percentage that has a Bachelor’s degree or higher at 29 percent. Visit Migration to see additional information about educational attainment in our region

Our region, along with Northern Arizona (NACOG) and Southeast Idaho (SICOG), is estimated to have a high proportion of adults, over 35 percent, with some college or an Associate’s degree, when compared with the national average.

Refer to Community and Health Indicators for high school graduation rates in the region.

Bachelor’s Degree Fields

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 45 percent of the Bachelor’s degrees held by residents of our region are in the Science and Engineering field. When combined with Science and Engineering Related fields, the percentage jumps to over 50 percent.

Employment by Education Level

The majority of entry level positions in the region, or 63 percent, do not require an education level above a high school diploma. However, when looking at non-entry level jobs, or competitive level jobs, less than half of those have a minimum educational requirement of a high school diploma. Most competitive level jobs require at least some post-secondary education and 30 percent require a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Projections for Wages

The Oregon Employment Department has issued projections that predict wage and employment by occupation for residents in our region. The highest wage jobs will grow in the Professional and Related sector. See further down on this page for details on expected job openings.

Types of Projected Job Openings

Job openings occur from new job creation and people leaving the workforce. The Oregon Employment Department projects that the majority of job openings that will occur from 2012 to 2022 will be in service occupations. These occupations include protective service (firefighters, law enforcement, security guards, construction flaggers, etc.); food preparation and service; building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; and personal care and service (entertainment attendants, funeral service, personal appearance, child care workers, etc.). In the chart below, the dark blue (replacement openings) represents job openings between 2012 and 2022 that are due to people leaving the workforce due to change in occupation, retirement, or other reasons. The light blue (growth openings) represents the new positions expected to emerge during that time.

Jobs by Industry

According to data from the U.S. BLS, the number of jobs in the region declined during the recession and is close to recovering to pre-recession levels. In 2007 and 2008, the annual average number of non-government jobs in the region was slightly more than 77,000. In 2014, the average number of jobs was about 74,000. Seventy-five percent of jobs in 2014 were in service-providing industries, with the majority of jobs falling into the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities industry. This includes retail jobs such as those typically found in restaurants and retail centers.

Healthcare Employment

According to a 2013 Health Workforce Needs Assessment by the Workforce Investment Board, the healthcare industry accounts for 11 percent of the workforce in Benton County, nine percent in Lincoln County, and seven percent in Linn County. According to a 2013 survey of healthcare employers in the region as part of the assessment, respondents expected growth in the next five years in support positions, such as nursing aides, secretaries, and billing personnel. Employers also expected higher demand for registered nurses. The results of the survey mirror predictive data from the OED.

Businesses by Industry

Data from the U.S. BLS show that since 2004, the number of business establishments in the region has increased by over 13 percent. There were 7,040 establishments in 2014, more than the highest pre-recession annual average of 6,879 in 2007. Service-providing industries have the most establishments, 80 percent, with the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities industry making up the majority of businesses.

Employer Size

Large employers in the region, those with 250 or more employees, make up less than one percent of all employers. However, these large employers provide 44 percent of the jobs in the region. The smallest employers, those with fewer than 20 employees, represent 88 percent of all employers and provide almost 30 percent of the jobs in the region.