Job growth in Portland Metro was steady throughout summer of 2021. By August, concern over the COVID-19 Delta Variant caused employment to plateau.

While employment has not reached the pre-pandemic peak, Portland Metro added 16,400 jobs between June 2020 and June 2021. The September 2021 unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in the past seventeen months.

The growth was not uniform across all economic sectors. Real Estate and Leasing employs two percent of all workers in Portland Metro and represents two percent of all initial unemployment claims since the beginning of the economic crisis. During that period, more than 11,600 initial unemployment claims have been filed by Real Estate, Rental, and Leasing workers in Oregon, including 4,400 in Portland Metro. (Table 1) This represents thirty percent of the 2019 workforce.

In September 2021, there were 800 more Real Estate, Rental, and Leasing jobs in the Portland MSA than there had been in September 2019. (Table 2) Job losses were spread throughout the industry. Of the two hundred sixty-two occupations included in Real Estate and Leasing, one hundred and forty employed fewer workers in 2021 than in 2019. Three largest occupations, Maintenance and Repair Workers, General, Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers, and Real Estate Sales Agents, experienced gains of one percent, three percent, and eleven percent, respectively. The fourth occupation, Counter and Rental Clerks, experienced a loss of seven percent. (Table 3)

There are some positive signs. While employment in this sector has risen, the growth has not been steady. More than a year after the pandemic began, demand for workers has largely returned. Between August and September, job postings for nine of the top ten Real Estate and Leasing occupations were up between nine and eight hundred twenty-five percent from the same period during the previous year. (Table 4)

The real estate and rental and leasing sector includes businesses primarily engages in renting, leasing, or otherwise allowing the use of tangible (real estate or equipment) or intangible assets (patents and trademarks). The sector also includes businesses primarily engages in managing, selling, renting, and buying, and appraising real estate.

Roughly 263 occupations are found within real estate, rental, and leasing. Many of the largest occupations are relatively unique to the sector and not often found elsewhere in the economy (e.g. property, real estate, and community association managers, real estate sales agents, and real estate brokers). (Table 4)

Occupations in this sector tend to be middle wage. Seventy-seven percent of jobs in the industry pay a median wage between the 25th and 75th percentile of the regional median wage. Although the distribution is heavily weighted to jobs that pay below the median wage. (Table 5)

Educational requirements range from less than a high school diploma to a Bachelor’s degree, although the need for a college education is the exception rather than the rule: Sixty-three percent of the sector’s occupations, which account for over 80 percent of its current workforce, require no more than a high school diploma. On the other end of the spectrum, 28 percent required a bachelor’s degree. (Table 6)

Prior to the pandemic, Portland Metro’s real estate, rental, and leasing sector was expected to expand by 1,500 jobs between 2017 and 2027 for a growth rate of 6 percent; less than half the rate of the overall economy.


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