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. Transportation and Warehousing employs three percent of all workers in Portland Metro and represents three percent of all initial unemployment claims since the beginning of the economic crisis. During that period, more than 28,400 initial unemployment claims have been filed by Transportation and Warehousing workers in Oregon, including 9,000 in Portland Metro. (Table 1) This represents twenty-seven percent of the 2019 workforce.
In September 2021, there were 3,500 more Transportation and Warehousing jobs in the Portland MSA than there had been in September 2019. (Table 2) Job gain were spread throughout the industry. Of the two hundred sixty-two occupations included in Transportation and Warehousing, one hundred and forty-nine employed more workers in 2021 than in 2019. Five of the six largest occupations, experienced gains of eight percent to one hundred and two percent. The largest increase (2,041 new jobs; 102% increase) was Stockers and Order Fillers. (Table 3)
The future looks positive. Although the month-by-month growth is inconsistent, Transportation and Warehousing employs more people today than at almost any other point. More than a year after the pandemic began, demand for workers is strong. Between August and September, job postings for eight of the top ten Transportation and Warehousing occupations were up between eight and ninety-seven percent from the same period during the previous year. (Table 4)
In 2021, more than 38,700 people in Multnomah and Washington Counties were employed in Transportation and Warehousing. Twenty-seven percent of workers in this sector are employed in the two largest occupations: heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and laborers, and freight, stock, and material movers, hand. (Table 4)
Occupations in this sector tend to be middle wage. Sixty-eight percent of jobs in the industry pay a median wage between the 25th and 75th percentile of the regional median wage. (Table 5)
More than two hundred sixty occupations are found within the Transportation and Warehousing sector. Educational requirements range from less than a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree. Twenty-two percent of the sector’s occupations, which account for eight percent of its current workforce, require a bachelor’s degree or higher. On the other end of the spectrum, thirty-seven occupations (23% of workers) require no formal education. (Table 6)
The transportation and warehousing sector includes industries providing transportation of passengers and cargo, warehousing and storage for goods, scenic and sightseeing transportation, and support activities related to modes of transportation.