2021-2031 Projections Show Broad-based Employment Growth in the Mid-Valley

by Pat O'Connor

April 25, 2023

The Mid-Valley Workforce Area (Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties) will add 35,000 jobs between 2021 and 2031. This represents a 12% increase in employment over 10 years. The growth stems from anticipated private-sector gains of 31,600 jobs (15%) and the addition of 3,000 jobs (6%) in government. This projected 12% growth rate is slower than the 22% growth seen over the past decade in the Mid-Valley. One reason for the slower 12% growth compared with the 22% growth in the prior decade is that in 2012 the Mid-Valley’s employment was not too far from the 2010 employment lows that occurred during the Great Recession. Growing from a low point in the business cycle is a big reason the Mid-Valley showed such fast employment growth from 2012 to 2022.

Beyond gains from economic growth, an additional 316,000 job openings will be created by 2031 as workers change occupations or leave for other reasons, such as retirement.

The 2021 to 2031 employment projections bring together several ongoing trends over the past few years as well as new ones resulting from the COVID-19 recession. The health care sector has been growing quickly for a number of years, due in part to an aging population. However, the most recent projections show slower growth in health care than has been projected in recent years. Another long-term trend is public-sector employment growing more slowly than private-sector employment. A newer trend is fast job growth in the leisure and hospitality sector as it recovers from the COVID-19 recession.

Industry Projections

There will be job growth in all of the broad private-sector industries by 2031.
Graph showing Mid-Valley employment growth: 2021-2031

The region’s trade, transportation, and utilities sector and the leisure and hospitality sector are both projected to add the most jobs (+7,300 jobs). In addition to adding the most jobs, leisure and hospitality will also be the fastest growing sector, growing nearly 36% over the decade as the sector continues to bounce back from the COVID-19 recession.

Within the trade, transportation, and utilities sector the fastest growth is projected within transportation, warehousing, and utilities which is projected to add 5,100 jobs or 44% growth from 2021 to 2031.

Another fast growing sector is construction, which is projected to add 2,700 jobs or 16% growth from 2021 to 2031.

The region’s health care and social assistance sector is projected to grow 14% over the decade, slightly faster than the Mid-Valley’s total employment growth rate. The sector is projected to add 5,400 jobs over the decade.
Occupational Projections

Between 2021 and 2031, there will be job openings in all occupations in the Mid-Valley.

Economic diversity in the Mid-Valley Workforce Area is demonstrated by the two different broad occupational categories projected to have the most job openings in the region: service occupations (72,400 openings), and administrative and support occupations (35,000 openings). Service occupations includes jobs as varied as emergency services, pest control workers, and fast food cooks. It includes many occupations that were most impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Administrative and support occupations include bookkeepers, customer service representatives, and receptionists.
Table showing occupations with the most job openings in the Mid-Valley, 2021-2031

Health care occupations tend to be the ones growing fastest, driven in large part by the aging population. Physical therapist assistants, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners are among the fastest-growing occupations in the region. In addition, a number of service occupations that experienced large job losses during the pandemic in 2020 are expected to continue bouncing back with rapid job growth.
Table showing fastest-growing occupations in the Mid-Valley, 2021-2031
In terms of actual job counts, the five occupations with the most job openings anticipated by 2031 are: fast food and counter workers; farmworkers; retail salespersons; cashiers; and laborers and freight, stock, and material movers. These are all large occupations, and they will all experience some openings due to economic growth, but also due to the retirement or other departures of existing workers.

In addition to the 35,000 new jobs from businesses opening or expanding, the region’s employers will also need sufficiently trained workers for the 316,000 openings due to the need to replace those leaving occupations. Replacement openings will make up a majority of total job openings in all major occupational groups.

Other Regional Projections

All areas of Oregon expect to see job opportunities due to both economic growth, and to replace workers leaving the labor force or leaving their occupation in the coming years. The two regions projected to grow at the fastest rates are Central Oregon (16%) and the Portland area (15%). The Mid-Valley is projected to grow 12.2%, similar to Oregon’s statewide rate of 12.8%.

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