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Economy

Employment and the Labor Market

Data about employment and the labor market illustrate the structure and dynamics of paid work in a community.

Get the most recent employment statistics from OR Employment Department's OR Labor Market Information System.

Local Jobs Matter

From an economic perspective, with a perfectly mobile labor force, people seeking jobs would move to areas of available jobs. But we know that people aren't always willing to pack up and move for a new job. This means that the type of job realistically available to a worker is conditioned to a large extent by the opportunity structure around them. The opportunity structure surrounding people includes the availability of any job as well as the occupational and industrial mix of jobs, the prevailing wage rates, and the recent trends in all these areas.

Nowhere does this matter more than in rural areas. In general, in an urban area, a reasonable commuting distance can get a potential worker to a much greater diversity of jobs than a similar length commute in a rural area. There also may be more support for workers in urban areas: public transportation and available child care are often noted as work support structures harder to come by in rural areas.

Looking Closely at Rural Opportunities

Excerpted from: Findeis, Jill and Leif Jensen. 1998. Employment Opportunities in Rural Areas: Implications for Poverty in a Changing Policy Environment. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 80(5): 1000-1007.

On the farm

On an Oregon farm:
Image provided courtesy of
Oregon Department of Agriculture.

"A useful concept for understanding employment hardship is the concept of underemployment. Underemployment goes beyond traditional labor market measures...to include other forms of employment distress such as low-wage employment, involuntary part-time employment, and the presence of discouraged workers...

"The results...show a greater prevalence of underemployment in nonmetro areas...Nonmetro underemployment rates are consistently higher than even central city rates. In large part, the higher underemployment rates observed in the U.S. nonmetro areas reflect the greater proportion of marginal jobs there. Nonmetro jobs are more likely to be low-income jobs or provide enough hours of work for the population wanting to work...

"[Second,] Long-term trends suggested by the empirical analyses in this article do not indicate enhanced upward mobility from marginal jobs to better employment - in fact, the opposite is likely the case. Over time, the working poor, as well as involuntary part-time workers, have been less likely to be hired into better jobs...

"In rural areas, the challenge is even greater. Underemployment is a more prevalent problem, as is chronic poverty. A higher proportion of the poor are already at work. Although discouraged workers and the unemployed may find jobs in rural reas, these jobs are increasingly marginal jobs. In addition, rural workers already employed in marginal jobs are less likely that urban workers...to find adequate employment later."

Explore on Your Own!

Do rural areas in Oregon have less diverse employment patterns than urban areas? Do they have higher unemployment rates? What role might barriers to employment, like long travel times to work or lack of childcare slots, play in the rural employment opportunities available in our state?

Launch the Oregon Communities Reporter Tool

Glossary of Employment Related Terms

Using the Oregon Communites Reporter, you can examine state and local trends in employment and work support systems by looking at the following variables:

  • Unemployment Rates: The percentage of individuals above the age of 16 who are not employed, but looking for work.
    Formula: ([# over 16 unemployed]/[# of people over 16 in labor force])*100
    Source: US Census Bureau

  • Self-Employment & Entrepreneurship:

    Self-Employment: The percentage of households with self-employment income.
    Formula: ([# households with self-employment income]/[total # of households])*100
    Source: US Census Bureau

    Entrepreneurship: The share of all private establishment jobs that are in non-employer establishments. Data from 2003.
    Formula: ([# of jobs in non-employer establishments]/[# of jobs in private, non-farm establishments])*100
    Source: US Census Bureau Non-employer Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Economic Accounts

  • Travel Time to Work: The percentage of workers who commute various durations to work.
    Formula example: ([# commuting less than 10 min]/[total # of commuters])*100
    Source: US Census Bureau

  • Net Job Loss/Growth: Change in the number of jobs between the listed year and the year prior, per 1000 population.
    Formula: (([# jobs this year]-[# jobs last year])/[total county population])*1000
    Source: Oregon Employment Department, as reported by Oregon Progress Board Benchmark Report

  • Childcare Slots: Number of childcare slots available through and reported by regulated and legally exempt child care providers, per 100 children under age 13.
    Formula: ([# of childcare slots available]/[total population under 13])*100
    Source: Child Care Research Partnership and Oregon Employment Department, as reported by Oregon Progress Board Benchmark Report

  • Average Annual Payroll: Average annual payroll, in 2006 dollars, for workers covered by unemployment insurance. 1992 data used for 1990.
    Formula: [total payroll, all industries]/[average annual employment, all industries]
    Source: Oregon Employment Department, as reported by Oregon Progress Board Benchmark Report

  • Creative Class Occupations: The share of workers in occupations that involve a high level of "thinking creatively." This skill element is defined as "developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions."
    Formula: ([# employed in creative class occupations]/[total # employed])*100
    Source: Economic Research Service, USDA

  • Industry Employment Rates: The percentage of workers in each of 13 industries.
    Formula example: ([# employed, construction industry]/[total # employed, all industries])*100
    Source: US Census Bureau

  • Occupational Employment Rates: The percentage of workers in each of six occupations.
    Formula example: ([# in sales & office occupations]/[total # employed in all occupations])*100
    Source: US Census Bureau

  • Employment Concentration in Professional Services, relative to the US: The professional services industry includes investment advice, advertising agencies, engineering services, architectural services, accounting services, management consulting services, and legal services. It identifies the proportion of covered employment (covered by unemployment insurance) in professional services relative to the national proportion.
    Source: Oregon Employment Department and US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as reported by the Oregon Progress Board Benchmark Reports

Sources

Findeis, Jill and Leif Jensen. 1998. Employment Opportunities in Rural Areas: Implications for Poverty in a Changing Policy Environment. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 80(5): 1000-1007.

Authored and compiled by Mindy Crandall, Faculty Research Assistant, Oregon State University Extension Service (2008)

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