Why this matters to Oregonians
Maintaining Portland-metro’s Gross Metropolitan Product growth in the top tier of U.S. metros is important to our region. That productivity generates more than valuable output. It also shows the U.S. and the world that Portland-metro is home to highly productive industries and therefore highly skilled and efficient workers. We want that reputation to grow and spur more innovative companies and employment opportunities.
The gain in jobs is also positive, but the business community and policy-makers need to pay attention to what type of jobs we are growing. All jobs are important, but if we want to build a stronger regional economy, we need to support and foster manufacturing and other traded sectors that provide good, family-wage jobs, and, in turn, boost the local sector.
By focusing on the type of jobs and the income levels of those jobs, we will start to see improvement in Portland-metro’s median household incomes that are still well below our aspirational peers and a per capita income level that is below the U.S. metro average. Until we see a return of higher-paying jobs, growing investments in critical public services—especially education—will continue to be an uphill climb.
We believe that we can make that uphill climb easier by working with policy-makers on the issues that impact economic growth:
- Improvements in the educational attainment of Portland-metro and Oregon students through the state’s 40-40-20 goals4 and related initiatives;
- Greater availability of market-ready industrial land;
- Investments in transportation infrastructure such as the Columbia River Crossing;
- A continued focus on traded-sector job development, and,
- Tax reform to incent private investment and stabilize public services.
Over the past few years, we have made some strides in these areas, and it is our goal that our Value of Jobs initiative will continue to guide and shape how the Portland-metro region improves its quality of life through the creation and retention of good, family-wage jobs.
4 The Oregon Business Plan established a goal for 40 percent of Oregonians to have at least a Bachelor’s degree, 40 percent at least an associate’s or technical degree and 20 percent at least a rigorous high school diploma.