Why manufacturing matters

2012 Manufacturing Sector | (5.9MB pdf)

This report from the Value of Jobs Coalition examines the positive impact a healthy manufacturing sector has on wages and benefits for Portland-metro workers and their families.

Like previous research, the goal of this report is to inform policy-makers and the public about our regionís economic challenges and point out opportunities where we can improve our quality of life through private-sector job creation and retention and better wages.

Our coalitionís previous studies highlighted the important role of international trade and traded-sector industries in helping to grow private-sector jobs and increase wages. Previous studies also showed how increasing wages and job growth translate into a healthier public sector with better schools, livable neighborhoods and greater social equity.

This study looks at one critical part of the traded-sector economy ó manufacturing. Although traded-sector services are of growing importance, the production of traded-sector goods (i.e., manufacturing) is still the backbone of Portland-metroís traded-sector employment. This report shows that a strong manufacturing sector translates into higher incomes and significantly better health and retirement benefits for Portland-metro workers in manufacturing careers.



Rank of Oregon as a manufacturing location by the American Institute for Economic Research in 2011.


Rank of Portland-metro in percentage of jobs in manufacturing.


Percentage of Portland-metro manufacturing specialized in high-tech sector Ė twice the U.S. average.


Value in dollars of Portland-metroís manufacturing sector output in 2010.


Number of employees in average Portland-metro manufacturing plant.


Percentage by which manufacturing wages and salaries exceed those of non-manufacturing jobs.


Percentage more in wages a non-white manufacturing worker earns compared to a non-white, non-manufacturing worker.


Percentage by which manufacturing benefits exceed those of non-manufacturing jobs.

Key findings include:

Our regionís strength in manufacturing demonstrates the need for action to address the challenges hampering growth in this sector. Our coalitionís study on industrial lands shows that the region lacks a supply of readily developable sites for new industrial growth. We know that Oregonís high capital gains tax also presents a hurdle for some manufacturing investment. And there are ongoing challenges in matching the skills needed for manufacturing careers with our K-12 education system.

Our goal is for this study to catalyze a constructive dialogue among policy-makers, business leaders and other community stakeholders about how our region can help attract, retain and grow manufacturing careers. If we are successful, we will build a stronger and more diverse economy and provide opportunity for middle-class and family-wage careers for a greater share of the regionís residents.