Over the decades, the Portland-metro region has been home to a strong manufacturing sector. Our region has a proud history of manufacturing work and innovation. This sector has provided good, family-wage jobs for workers with significantly higher benefits from a variety of education and economic levels and backgrounds.
Our regionís manufacturing sector has also driven large investments in research and development, leading to innovation. And, the traded-sector nature of manufacturing has contributed to positive private-sector job creation in other sectors of our economy.
Although manufacturing employment nationally has declined, Portland-metro manufacturing employment has been more stable and continues to support a larger number of jobs than the national average.
Additionally, Portland-metro manufacturing is more productive than many metro areas, particularly in very high technology fields where we have a higher-than-average proportion of manufacturing jobs.
With our strong base of companies and skilled employees, we are well positioned for the possibility of manufacturing returning to the U.S. from overseas.
Our coalitionís latest analysis shows that manufacturing provides better wages and benefits for workers at all levels of education, and pays a bigger premium for workers with less than a college degree, limited English skills and communities of color. At a time when the region is striving to improve the educational attainment of students, it is important to also consider the positive influence manufacturing careers can have on issues of income equity and earnings opportunity.
A thriving modern manufacturing sector will benefit from improved natural, physical, human and social capital. The benefits of our manufacturing sector could be enhanced by:
- Tax and other public policies that encourage investment in state-of-the-art equipment, research and development to spur innovation.
- Expanded education programs that expose students to manufacturing careers and provide them with STEM skills;
- Investments in modern, affordable infrastructure that provides efficient movement of goods and workers and
- Sufficient supplies of market-ready industrial land for growth of existing and recruitment of new firms.
While we face challenges in finding the resources to achieve these investments, with targeted initiatives, our region can expand on its already strong manufacturing base, grow and retain private-sector job opportunities, increase wages for workers and boost our regionís overall quality of life.