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. Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation one percent of all workers in Portland Metro and represents three percent of all initial unemployment claims filed since the beginning of the economic crisis. During that period, more than 19,200 initial unemployment claims were filed by Arts and Entertainment workers in Oregon, including 7,400 in Portland Metro. (Table 1) This represents fifty-eight percent of the 2019 workforce.
In September 2021, there were 5,800 fewerArts, Entertainment, and Recreation jobs in Portland Metro than there had been in September 2019. (Table 2) Job losses were spread throughout the industry. Of the two hundred sixteen occupations included in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation, one hundred eighty-eight employed fewer workers in 2021 than in 2019. The largest occupations, Exercise Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors, Coaches and Scouts, and Amusement and Recreation Attendants, experienced losses of thirty-one percent, twenty-three percent, and fifty percent, respectively. (Table 3)
Some of the lost jobs will not return. Five of the fifteen largest occupations in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (representing 49% of jobs), are at high risk of automation. Automation tends to accelerate during recessions.
There are some positive signs. Employment in this sector has steadily risen since January 2021. The growth is expected to continue throughout the summer. More than a year after the pandemic began, demand for workers is strong. Between August and September 2021, job postings for the top ten Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation increased between thirty-one and eight hundred percent. (Table 3)
In 2021, more than 9,700 people in Multnomah and Washington Counties were employed in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation. The industry includes nearly 220 occupations. Twenty-six percent of all workers are in the sector’s four largest occupations: Exercise Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors, Amusement and Recreation Attendants, Coaches and Scouts, and Waiters and Waitresses. (Table 4)
Occupations in this sector tend to be low wage. Seventy-eight percent of jobs in the industry pay a median wage between the regional median wage. Twenty percent of the jobs pay a wage in the bottom ten percentile and a full forty-one percent of jobs pay a wage below the 25th percentile of the regional median wage. (Table 5)
Educational requirements range from less than a high school diploma to a Master’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 90 percent of its current workforce, require no more than a high school diploma. On the other end of the spectrum, five occupations require a master’s degree. (Table 6)
Workers in arts, entertainment, and recreation tend to be younger than the overall workforce. Nearly half (48%) of workers are 34 years or younger, compared to thirty-three percent of the total workforce. Twenty-one percent are 24 years old or younger, twice as many as the total workforce. (Table 7)
Workers of color, in particular Asian workers, are underrepresented in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation. Asian workers are seven percent of the regional workforce but just four percent of the workforce in this sector. (Table 8) Slightly more than half of workers in this sector are female (55%).