Aug 1, 2023 - Business

Oregon manufacturing poised to keep growing

Change in U.S. manufacturing jobs
Note: May 2023 data is preliminary. Seasonally-adjusted estimates used. Data: BLS; Map: Axios Visuals

Oregon's manufacturing sector grew 5.75% since early 2021, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and is expected to continue to grow through the end of this decade.

Why it matters: Manufacturing covers a diverse array of businesses in Oregon — from craft food and drink to precision machinery — and needs employees with a range of skills.

By the numbers: That 5.75% growth translates to 10,600 Oregon manufacturing jobs between January 2021 and May 2023.

  • Much of that growth is still pandemic recovery, state employment economist Molly Hendrickson tells Axios.

Zoom out: The U.S. economy added some 800,000 manufacturing jobs nationwide in the same period, a number that has political implications for the 2024 presidential race, writes Axios' Hans Nichols.

Zoom in: Oregon's biggest manufacturing business by far is computer and electronics, making up 20% of the sector statewide.

What we're watching: Oregon lawmakers created a $190 million pot to support the expansion of the state's semiconductor industry.

  • The fund is designed to help Oregon businesses win federal dollars by showing local government investment.
  • Oregon is now evaluating the first round of applications for state support, Colin Sears, global trade and business services manager for Business Oregon, tells Axios. The grants and loans will be awarded by October.

Of note: Longtime Oregon semiconductor manufacturer Analog Devices Inc. just announced a $1 billion expansion it says will add hundreds of jobs at its Beaverton facility.

What they're saying: "We're at a special moment in time where there's a reinvestment into the American industry in a big way," Sears says.

State of play: Food manufacturing makes up the second highest share of the sector in Oregon.

  • While the wood product industry has been falling steadily for decades, engineered wood products, sawmills and millwork still add up to nearly 20,000 jobs, about two-thirds of total electronics manufacturing positions, according to state figures.

Details: Over the past decade, employment in Oregon manufacturing overall has grown nearly twice as fast as the national rate, according to a state analysis. By 2031, it is expected to grow by 9% to over 200,000 jobs.

Yes, but: That's still below Oregon's manufacturing peak of nearly 229,000 jobs in 1998.

  • Jobs in manufacturing of all kinds are far fewer than in hospitality, health care and professional services statewide.
  • Over 25% of Oregon workers in manufacturing are aged 55 or older, according to an ECONorthwest assessment done for the state last year.
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