Economic Check-Up Shows Jobs are Back

2014 Report Summary
(1.9MB pdf)

Between January 2008 and December 2010, the darkest period in the recession, the Portland-metropolitan area lost 64,5001 jobs. Since then, the Value of Jobs coalition has tracked the regionís economic recovery, and the news is good this year for the fifth annual Economic Check-Up. Between January 2011 and August 2014, the region added back 84,875 jobs, for a gain of 20,375 since the 2007 peak.

Has the regional economy recovered? The numbers clearly show that jobs are back, and that is great news.

But a closer look at this yearís statistics reveals a mixed report. Yes, jobs are back, but much of the recovery has been in the local sector: employers who operate primarily in the local economy. Those critical traded-sector jobs Ė jobs related to employers who do business outside of the Portland-metro region and, thus, bring new dollars to our regional economy Ė have also shown a rebound and are closer to their pre-recession level. However, they still are not quite there. Portland-metroís recovery of traded-sector jobs outpaces the national average for metro areas, yet lags continue in key sectors, such as manufacturing and construction, which generate the middle-income jobs that are important to the long-term vitality of this region.

This yearís data also shines a light on another important metric for the regional economy: job growth as it compares to population growth. In this area, there is cause for concern. Regional job growth relative to population growth has declined over the past few years, which could have long-term implications if not addressed.

Looking at the other critical economic indicatoróincomeó the news is mixed. During the last year, incomes increased, but they are still behind their pre-recession levels, which impacts families and impedes overall economic recovery. For the second year in a row, Portland-metroís median household income increased, and we now outpace many of the metro areas we have chosen as comparator regions. Per capita income grew slightly, but through 2012 still lagged the national average for metro areas by about 5 percent ($45,850 nationally vs. $43,734 in Portland).

A review of income distribution shows that, while Portland-metroís lower- and middle-income earners, on average, make more than their peers nationally, the regionís higher-income earners make less. This reiterates previous Value of Jobs reports, which showed Portland-metroís college-educated professionals earn less than their peers nationally. Considering Oregonís dependence on income taxes as a primary source of tax revenue, this is a trend that could have long-term implications for the state and Portland-metro.

Finally, Portland-metroís growth in Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) Ė a key measure of productivity Ė continues to outpace much of the nation. Driven largely by the electronics and semiconductor industry, including Intel, Portland-metroís GMP growth was third in the nation for metro areas. This creates a tremendous story for the region to tell as it works to grow its existing job base and attract new employers to the region.

As always, this annual report provides the Portland-metro region with an opportunity to look back at what has worked in our effort to grow jobs and what has not. Now that we appear to have recovered the jobs lost in the recession, at least in raw numbers, the report poses a new question:

What next? How will we ensure that Portland-metro continues to have a growing and thriving economy for this and future generations?

Those are questions we must answer together.

1 This figure differs from the 2013 Economic Check-Up to reflect the most up-to-date information from state and federal agencies.



The number of jobs lost from 2007 to 2010, the baseline job number used in this report.


The number of jobs added back to the Portland-metro region between 2010 and August 2014.


The amount by which Portlandís median household income remains below pre-recession levels.


The percentage by which Portlandís per capita income lags the national average for metropolitan areas.

$3,592, $8,026, $8,311.

The amount by which Portland-metro median household incomes trail those of Denver, Minneapolis and Seattle respectively.


The percentage of Portland-metroís employment per capita in 2013, down from 53 percent in 2000.


The rank of Portland-metro out of the top 100Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in the growth of Gross Metropolitan Product between the second quarter of 2009 and the second quarter of 2014.