Wasco County Payroll and Employment Growth (2016)

Following up on a previous post about employment in Wasco County, staff wanted to share an overview about job and wage growth.  The State of Oregon Employment Department published a look at employment and payroll growth in Oregon counties from 2015 to 2016 last month.  The available data shows all industries in  Wasco County had a 5.5% increase in employment, with wages increasing 4.1% over 2015.

Wasco County ranks in the “middle of the pack” at 16th for wages, behind Douglas County.  Significant bumps in wage and payroll growth for the natural resources/mining, information and education/health services helped keep Wasco County in a position of growth while wages for manufacturing and retail lagged, or decreased.

During our vision workshops, and in many of the comments we receive, concern for job creation and growth continues to be a priority for our community.  The current Wasco County Comprehensive Plan works to “diversify and improve the economy of Wasco County” by helping to maintain agriculture and forestry lands for production.  It also currently guides the planning program to ensure any commercial or industrial growth in the County (outside incorporated areas) is consistent and compatible with the County’s agriculture and forestry base.

The Planning Department also works to support efforts and contribute to visioning produced by the Mid Columbia Economic Development District; in 2016 and 2017 Planning staff participated in the MCEDD workgroup to develop the 2017-2022 Columbia Gorge Economic Development Strategy.

During the Wasco County 2040 process, we want to hear other possible strategies and goals for helping residents and business achieve prosperity into the future…particularly as they involve land use and development.  You can submit comments here or participate in our visioning survey to share your thoughts.

On October 3rd, Planning Staff will be presenting results from our summer visioning roadshow workshops to the Planning Commission, and making some recommendations for policy focus areas for late fall and winter.  As economic development is already an identified priority by the Department of Land Conservation and Development, staff anticipates it being a topic we bring back to the public for suggestions on how to improve or amend our existing policies.



Rural Oregon and Employment

This month, the State of Oregon Employment Department published a 44 page report on the status of employment and recession recovery in rural Oregon.  By their definition, Wasco County is included in list of counties analyzed.

Wasco County fares significantly better than many other rural counties in terms of job gains since the pre-recession (2007) peak; we are currently seeing a positive 7.2% increase in jobs above numbers seen before the recession.

Aging population, low natural growth rate (birth and death), and lack of critical infrastructure are just some of the challenges facing rural Oregon.  While there is a projected 10 to 14 percent job growth for Wasco County over the next eight years, including a high level of replacement opportunities (job vacancies created by retirement), many of the trends towards low wage jobs in rural areas will be amplified by barriers to new investment including infrastructure gaps, limited skilled workforce, and less diverse economies.

Read the report: https://www.qualityinfo.org/documents/10182/13336/The+Employment+Landscape+of+Rural+Oregon?cn=May2017&cm=email&cs=publication&cc=Rural%20Report