Hood River County’s Payroll Growth Slows Considerably in 2019

by Dallas Fridley

September 22, 2020

Hood River County’s total all-industries payroll grew by a scant $12.5 million in 2019 to total $586.4 million, an increase of 2.2 percent. All-industries employment rose by a tepid one percent or 143 jobs to total 14,391. Wages in Hood River County averaged $40,749, an increase of only $467 or 1.2 percent over 2018.

Contrast Hood River County’s rapid payroll growth in 2018, which produced an increase of $48.7 million or 9.3 percent. Likewise, 2017 stood out as a banner year, with payrolls up $42.2 million or 8.7 percent. For further context, look back to the height of the Housing Bubble, in 2008, when payrolls rose by 10.1 percent, confirming that payroll growth has been exceptional in recent years.
Oregon’s all-industries average wage reached $55,019 in 2019, about $14,300 higher than Hood River County’s. Among Oregon’s 36 counties, Hood River County’s average wage ranked below the middle of the pack, in 20th position, just behind Tillamook County ($40,781) and just ahead of Columbia County ($40,729). The annual wage gap for 24 of Oregon’s 36 counties exceeded $10,000 in 2019. Only two counties, Multnomah ($62,056) and Washington ($73,226), exceeded Oregon’s 2019 average wage. Together, Multnomah and Washington counties paid out 51 percent of Oregon’s $107.5 billion payroll, or about $54.5 billion while hosting 36 percent of its jobs. Outside Multnomah and Washington counties, average pay for the remaining 34 Oregon counties falls to $46,901, a drop of about $8,100 or 15 percent.

Hood River County’s private industry payroll rose by $8.8 million in 2019 to total $519.3 million, an increase of 1.7 percent. Private industry employment rose to 13,109 in 2019, an increase of 129 jobs or one percent.

Education and health services led Hood River County in 2019 with a payroll gain of $4.4 million or 5.5 percent. Education and health services’ payroll ranked as private industry’s second largest in 2019, with professional and business services’ $86.4 million leading Hood River County. Education and health services’ employment rose by a moderate 2.6 percent or 45 jobs in 2019. The average wage in education and health services reached $48,808, an increase of 2.8 percent or about $1,300.

Professional and technical services, which is part of the professional and business services group, cast a shadow over 2019 payrolls, with a loss or $4.4 million or 5.2 percent, dropping its total to $79.7 million. Professional and technical services paid an average $89,711 in 2019, exceeding Hood River County’s all-industries average wage by $48,962. Employment in professional and technical fell by 7.3 percent or 70 jobs in 2019 to average 888. Despite the payroll and job loss, the average wage in professional and technical services rose by 2.2 percent or $1,970 in 2019.

The professional and business services group still boasted Hood River County’s largest payroll in 2019, at $86.4 million, even after weathering a payroll loss of nearly $4 million. The industry group’s advantage over education and health services ($85.2 million) and manufacturing ($83.9 million) narrowed considerably. The professional and business services group experienced four years of exceptional payroll growth over 2015-2018, rising by $37.2 million or 70 percent since 2014. Due to confidentiality issues, payroll and employment could not be divulged for professional and technical services in 2014 or 2015.

Manufacturing experienced its own issues in 2019, with a payroll loss of $4.2 million or 4.8 percent, dropping its total to $83.9 million. Manufacturing’s payroll also fell a notch in 2019 to rank third behind education and health services’ $85.2 million. Manufacturing performed admirably in 2017, with a payroll gain of $4.9 million (+7%) and the industry followed up in 2018 with a $10.5 million (+14%) increase to reach an $88.1 million peak. Wages suffered in 2019, falling by $4,536 or nine percent to average $45,598 - but still well above Hood River County’s all industry’s average ($40,749). With its 2018 peak aside, average pay in manufacturing increased by just $2,600 over the past four years (since 2015).

Wholesale trade performed exceptionally in 2019, with payrolls rising by 17 percent or $3.9 million to total $26.9 million. Employment also impressed, climbing by 14.2 percent or 63 jobs to average 507. Wages in wholesale trade averaged $53,106 in 2019, about $12,400 or 30 percent above Hood River County’s all-industries average.

Leisure and hospitality turned in an impressive payroll gain in 2019, rising by 5.6 percent or $2.8 million to reach $53.5 million. Employment actually fell slightly in 2019 to average 2,374, a loss of 14 jobs. Wages in leisure and hospitality, at $22,538, lagged Hood River County’s all-industries average by about $18,200 or 45 percent.

Natural resources and mining ranked as Hood River County’s largest industry based on employment with 2,518 jobs in 2019. Employment in natural resources and mining rose by just 27 jobs in 2019 while its total payroll reached $68.8 million, an increase of 2.7 percent or $1.8 million. Natural resources and mining paid an average $27,328 in 2019, about one-third or $13,400 below Hood River County’s all-industries average pay.


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