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A Stronger Rural Economy Means a Stronger Oregon for All

OEDA Rural Economy

Oregon’s population stands at over four million but includes only 663,330 people living in rural places. Unfortunately, almost a decade after the last recession, many rural residents are still recovering.

As of July 2017, the unemployment rate in the state is at 3.8%, while the average unemployment rate in rural Oregon counties is at 4.7%. Overall, Oregon is outpacing other states as compared to the national unemployment rate of 4.3%, but we can see that rural is still catching up. Rural Oregon does have higher rates of self-employment income as compared to the state overall; however, according to wage and salary information, rural Oregon is behind the state average by 8.7%.

According to The Employment Landscape of Rural Oregon, released by the State of Oregon Employment Department in May 2017, rural Oregon counties had 238,000 jobs in 2016. The 23 counties combined accounted for 13 percent of Oregon’s job total last year. About 180,000 rural jobs are in private sector industries and another 57,000 jobs are in government at the federal, state, and local levels.

More than 40 percent of rural Oregon employment is concentrated in natural resources, leisure and hospitality (tourism), and government. As far as industry employment, rural Oregon leads in Construction, Public Administration, Transportation and Utilities, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting, and Mining.

Oregon’s manufacturing employment declined 8 percent between 1990 and 2016, even as total nonfarm employment grew 46 percent. Timber harvest levels are recovering from the recession, but the Employment Department has concluded that rural Oregon will likely not depend on resource extraction as it has historically.

Look at any map and you can easily see that most of Oregon is rural. As OEDA members work on business development and expansion, the unemployment rate will continue to trend down, and rural Oregon can grow their natural resource and tourism economies. A stronger rural economy means a stronger Oregon for all of us, no matter where we live.

Community Reporters Tool (http://oe.oregonexplorer.info/rural/CommunitiesReporter/)
State of Oregon Employment Department (www.qualityinfo.org)
The Employment Landscape of Rural Oregon, May 2017 (https://www.qualityinfo.org/documents/10182/13336/The+Employment+Landscape+of+Rural+Oregon?version=1.2)