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

Oregon in Position to Lasso Drone Business

Pendleton, home of the Pendleton Roundup, held a very different type of rodeo August 18-19.  The first Pendleton Ag Drone Rodeo shared at least one trait with traditional events such as the Pendleton Roundup that started more than a century ago:  It showcased activities that can be useful to farmers and ranchers.  But the similarities end there.

Rodeos first stamped their place in American history when agriculture relied almost exclusively on manual labor.  The Pendleton Roundup started in 1910 in the early days of agricultural mechanization.  The drone rodeo reflects the latest way technology has transformed how field crops are grown and animals are bred and raised.  Drones, also known more technically as unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicles, could kick agricultural efficiency to a new level – literally and metaphorically.

On the first day of the drone rodeo, companies gathered at a potato farm to demonstrate how unmanned systems with advanced sensors could be used for tasks such as precision spot spraying at a potato farm.  On the second day, participants gathered at the Oregon Army National Guard Armory at the Pendleton Airport to review and interpret the data collected.

Agriculture is just one industry that hopes to use unmanned aerial systems to develop more efficient production techniques and reduce costs.  And just as Oregon’s agriculture industry is known for its crop diversity, Oregon is in position to be a leading player in several sectors of the emerging, rapidly growing drone industry.

About a dozen states have federally approved test sites, and Oregon is home to three, each offering different climates and topographies:  One in Pendleton, another on the Warm Springs Reservation and one based in Tillamook on the Oregon Coast.  Oregon State University is one of 22 universities participating in the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence, or ASSURE.  The statewide nonprofit SOAR Oregon was created in 2014 to promote economic development of the UAS industry in Oregon.  Industry pioneer Insitu, though located across the Columbia River in Washington, helped attract a cluster of drone-related businesses to the Oregon side of the Columbia in the early days of the industry.

The first Pendleton Ag Drone Rodeo gave companies an opportunity to demonstrate how drones can be used in agricultural operations. Digital Harvest’s Yamaha R-MAX, shaped like a manned helicopter, simulated how
herbicide could be applied in a precise pattern mapped using a combination of satellite, drone and ground sensor data.

Oregon also has support industries that are important to the development of UAS-related businesses.  Jonathan Evans, chief executive officer, of Skyward, a Portland drone software and services company, explained the state’s corporate advantage in an article for the Portland Business Journal:  “Oregon is uniquely positioned at the confluence of aviation and computer hardware – which is what an aerial robot is.  Helicopter companies Erickson, Columbia Helicopters and Helicopter Transport Services are all based in the Portland metro area.  On the hardware side, we have Intel Corporation, whose CEO Brian Krzanich sits on the FAA’s Commercial Drone Alliance.”

With all of this in its favor, Oregon has attracted companies that incorporate drone use into a number of business activities:  agriculture, construction, forestry, photography and site inspections to name a few.  The state’s test sites also are playing a role in developing drone technology that can be applied to public services such as disaster response and public safety. 

Oregon’s UAS industry is diverse in another important way:  It has the potential to help different parts of the state.  The test ranges are on the Coast, in the Columbia River Gorge and in Central Oregon.  Skyward is based in Portland, while agricultural mapping company OmniFox Aerial Images operates out of Milton-Freewater.  SOAR Oregon’s offices are in Bend.  Agricultural and forestry operations in rural Oregon stand to be some of the biggest beneficiaries of UAS technology.

Of course, Oregon is not the only state eager to capitalize on this growing industry.  Eventually, the FAA will approve more test sites, technology will evolve and Oregon’s advantages could diminish unless the state uses its head start effectively.

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