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.

Unemployment

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


Go Fish: Investments in Salmon and Sockeye Protection at Hydroelectric Dams are Paying Off


Bonneville Dam Fish Viewing Window (Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers)

More than 2.5 million mature salmon swam through the Bonneville Dam on their way to spawn in the Columbia and Snake Rivers and their tributaries last year. That’s the highest number of fish since the Bonneville Dam was built more than 75 years ago, back in 1938. After decades of stagnant returns, the Pacific Northwest salmon population has been steadily growing over the past fifteen years.

But this growth has not been easy. Widespread restoration efforts began back in the 1990s, when petitions to the Endangered Species Act added 12 species of salmon and steelhead for protection due to falling fish counts.

Throughout their lifecycles, salmon and steelhead face a number of threats, from their journey as juveniles to the Pacific Ocean, to survival in the ocean, and then back to their native rivers and streams to spawn again. One of the many dangers to the fish can be dams along their paths.

The Columbia and Snake Rivers are home to eight federal hydroelectric dams. Hydroelectric power accounts for 46% of the Pacific Northwest’s energy resources and is the single largest power source for the region. Because hydropower is a clean energy source and carbon-neutral, unlike power produced by burning coal or petroleum, taking out the dams was not a viable option, even to restore salmon stocks.

Instead, the dams have been making large investments in retrofitting to protect the fish. And their efforts are paying off. In 2014, nearly 3,000 Snake River sockeye, which were nearing extinction back in the 1990s, were counted passing through Lower Granite Dam on their way to spawn; that’s almost 30% more Snake River sockeye than the previous record, set in 2012.

Having dams that are safer for fish has contributed to these encouraging sockeye returns. After years of innovation and new changes, an average of 97% of juvenile fish survive through the dams today. Investments in these new technologies total more than $14 billion, funded largely by Northwest families – 10 to 20% of a Northwest family or business’s electricity bill is used for fish and wildlife programs.

Innovations for fish protection include fish ladders, which help the adult fish move upstream to spawn, fish slides, for diverting fish over the dam, and mechanical bypass systems, to send juvenile fish away from the turbines and around the dam. Additionally, by using high-efficiency turbines and decreasing hydropower operations during peak migration times, more juvenile and adult fish experience safe passages through and around dams. As a result of these measures, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ research suggests that the survival rates of fish in rivers with hydroelectric dams are approaching those of rivers without dams.


Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder (Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers)

Salmon and sockeye still face numerous dangers. Four out of five fish mortalities occur in the ocean, where protection is much more difficult than simply investing in fish ladders. And, fish runs fluctuate year-to-year based on the survival rate of juveniles, oceanic conditions, and a number of other factors unrelated to dams; while 2014 signified record-breaking returns, scientists are already looking toward 2015’s fish run.

However, 2014’s fish runs are particularly encouraging for Oregon’s salmon industry, which generates more than $18.4 million for the economy. With continued growth in fish returns, the salmon industry can continue to prosper in Oregon, sustainably catching and harvesting fish for generations. Through dams that are safer for fish, Oregon and its economy can benefit both from hydroelectric power and a healthy fish population.