Over the past several decades, the U.S. traded sector has shifted from predominantly goods producing to predominantly services producing. This transition can be linked to growth in global trade and technological changes.

Traded-sector evolutions are even more pronounced at the regional level. The perpetual birth, death or movement of industries (and employers) means that each region’s traded sector is constantly in flux.

A region’s traded sector can change when a new industry finds a home there or when an old industry declines.8 Change can also occur in response to the movement of industries across places.9 How regions cope with change is at the crux of regional economic development debate.

As this analysis has shown, Portland-metro benefits from a strong base of traded-sector jobs, and there are numerous reasons to grow and strengthen Portland-metro’s traded sector: new money introduced in the economy; potentially higher wages for local- and traded-sector workers; and potentially higher entrepreneurialism and small business growth. These advantages and connections were further illustrated by stories about traded-sector companies that purchase goods or services from other smaller, local- or traded-sector businesses.

As a region, we need a better understanding of the role of the traded sector in our communities’ local sectors. The Value of Jobs Coalition hopes this report is a good first step.

For state and regional policy-makers, the challenge is to determine what factors help or hinder both our traded-goods and traded-services sectors and develop a strategy for nurturing those factors that encourage the location, formation and growth of traded-sector firms.

While the Portland-metro region has certain “fixed” natural and physical advantages for some traded-sector firms, employers rely on “un-fixed” resources such as: an educated and trained workforce, modernized infrastructure, available land supply and a favorable business climate. Public- and private-sector leaders must work together to ensure that the Portland-metro region’s natural, physical, human and social capital is up to par for traded-sector firm needs. This means:

  • Investments in education as well as trade programs and research institutions;
  • Modernized, affordable infrastructure that provides access to market;
  • Sufficient supply of market-ready, developable land; and

How can we work together to ensure the Portland-metro region continues to evolve its economy and create more capacity for prosperous growth and increased revenue for public services? We hope the Value of Jobs Campaign through this study and others continues to inform this discussion.

8 Klepper (2010)

9 Duranton (2007)