Oregon Economy
Oregon has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation. With important and growing industries in manufacturing, apparel, and green technologies, Oregon has a solid base in vital markets that will continue to enrich the economy moving forward.

Per capita GDP

Oregonís per capita GDP, adjusted for inflation, has been growing fairly consistentlyóand more quickly than both Washington and the U.S.-- over the past 15 years. If this trend continues, Oregon may even pass Washingtonís per capita GDP in the future.
GDP Growth

Real GDP growth in Oregon has been quite volatile, but, in all but the worst of the 2009 recession, GDP growth has remained positive. It has also generally exceeded Washington and the U.S.ís GDP growth rates. Ensuring a strong Oregon economy in the future is crucial to continuing this remarkable pattern of growth.
Household income

Oregonís median household income, adjusted for inflation, has remained relatively steady over the past 15 years and has only recently exceeded the USís real median household income. However, Oregon still trails Washington in this statistic.
Oregon Employment
Oregon's unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country; one of Oregonís biggest problems right now is that so many of its workers are out of work. However, overall unemployment has been slowly decreasing, and it is important to see where jobs are located in the economy and what industries have the highest potential for employment growth.


Oregonís unemployment rate has been consistently higher than both the U.S. and Washingtonís unemployment rates over the past decade. Helping businesses create new jobs is a crucial goal to decrease Oregonís unemployment.
Top 5 Industries for Oregon Employment

Oregon has many different industries driving its vibrant economy. Many Oregon jobs are within the healthcare and retail industries, but manufacturing, government, and food and lodging are also crucial for keeping Oregonians employed. Beyond these top-5 industries, many Oregonians are also employed in the production and distribution of durable goods as well as with financial-related occupations.
Oregon employment by business size

More than half of Oregonís workers are employed by companies with fewer than 100 employees, and over a quarter are employed by companies with fewer than 20 employees. As policymakers continue to adjust employment regulations, it is important to consider the many small businesses that employ the majority of Oregonians.
Oregon Exports
Exports have always been a crucial sector of the Oregon economy. Although recently major exports have shifted from logging and forestry to high tech manufacturing and related industries, exports still remain an important component of the Oregon economy and play an important role in both Oregonís GDP and its employment.

Export Employment

Oregonís employment is helped by its stronger-than-average export market. While Washington exports account for a larger percentage of jobs than in Oregonís exports do, Oregon still has a larger portion of jobs associated with exports than California and the US as a whole.
Oregon Exports by Sector

Oregonís export industry is particularly strong in computers and electronics manufacturing, and agriculture also plays an important role.
Key Sectors

Quiz Time:  What is CLT?

A.   A vegetarian sandwich similar to a BLT but substituting cucumber for bacon;

B.   A popular marijuana edible;

C.   A new computer coding language;

D.   A new lumber product that could help revive Oregon’s timber industry.

The answer is D, though you probably can find a cucumber, lettuce and tomato sandwich on some vegetarian menus.  Quietly, CLT, which stands for cross-laminated timber, is becoming one of Oregon’s emerging industries alongside more publicized fields such as software and legal marijuana.

So exactly, what is cross-laminated timber?  The so-called timber is actually comprised of multiple layers of wood glued together, with lower-value wood on the inside and higher value wood on the outside.  The panels can be customized with openings for windows and doors and slots for wiring, then shipped as a package.  It’s an efficient way to construct buildings and also is environmentally friendly because wood sequesters carbon.  It’s safe, too.  In a fire the panels don’t burn, but rather char at very slow predictable rates, while retaining their structural integrity.

The Carbon 12 condo complex in Portland won second place in the Oregon BEST CLT Design Contest. 
(Carbon 12 Project, Image Courtesy of The Kaiser Group)

The new product also has economic potential.  Cross-laminated timber is leading Oregon’s effort to become a global leader in advanced wood products.  D.R. Johnson in Riddle, Oregon, was the first U.S. company to become a certified producer of cross-laminated timber.  At least three planned Oregon projects have won design awards for their use of cross-laminated timber.  And The National Center for Advanced Wood Products and Design, a collaboration between the University of Oregon and Oregon State, is helping lead the push for the increased use of CLT in the United States.  The new technology achieved quicker acceptance in Europe but is gaining popularity in Western states.

Though the number of Oregonians employed in advanced wood products is small and not officially tracked, the growth potential is significant.  In Europe, CLT plants generally employ 200 to 400 workers.  Industry boosters hope to eventually see as many as a half-dozen plants in Oregon.  And the hope is that cross-laminated timber will be just the first of several types of advanced wood products to find a manufacturing home in Oregon.

Any growth will be welcome.  Wood products manufacturing employment is a fraction of what it once was in Oregon, but has been slowly climbing since 2011, reaching 22,402 in 2015, according to the Oregon Employment Department.  Development of more products like cross-laminated timber will help increase the number of jobs in rural areas where they are desperately needed. 

The Glenwood Parking Structure in Springfield won first place in the Oregon BEST CLT Design Contest.
(Glenwood Garage, Image Courtesy of the City of Springfield)

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