Corvallis Business: City’s Workforce Housing Future, Long-Term Employment Projections, Benton is State’s Most Livable County

Ella Castle

It’s been a familiar refrain among Corvallis human resource types for some time now – you cannot recruit new staff into town if there’s nowhere for them to live. Finally, there may be some relief coming.  City officials are pushing along code changes that would offer developers tax-exemptions if they’re […]

It’s been a familiar refrain among Corvallis human resource types for some time now – you cannot recruit new staff into town if there’s nowhere for them to live. Finally, there may be some relief coming. 

City officials are pushing along code changes that would offer developers tax-exemptions if they’re building new multi-unit developments, specifically workforce or low-income housing, and they’ve sent Housing and Neighborhood Services Manager Brigetta Olson to lobby the Benton County Board of Commissioners and Corvallis School Board. 

Both the county and schools, given the revenue ramifications, have to buy-in.  And so far, it seems to be going well. 

According to our government affairs reporter, Jennifer Williams, the county commissioners were not only supportive, but downright enthusiastic.  Also, the proposal went to the school board last week, and while they were a little more apprehensive about the revenue impacts, they ultimately concluded the increased affordable housing will attract more families with school age children, which means more per pupil state funding. In other words, the school board is leaning towards supporting the effort. 

Olson pointed out that projects would be approved on a case-by-case basis, and that both Eugene and Salem have enacted similar codes, and that housing for working families has been the result. 

Separately, former school board member and county commissioner candidate Helen Higgins has been rallying local stakeholders to find a path that leads to shovels in the ground for local workforce housing – and she’s far enough along to have now testified in front of Oregon lawmakers on the matter. 

Stay tuned, early as these moves are, momentum is favoring some housing relief in the foreseeable future. 

Follow-up: Early last month we reported that Bed, Bath & Beyond put out a release saying, “There is substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”  We suggested this did not bode well for the local store, let alone the chain. Regrettably, for those still working at the local BB&B, it was announced last week that the local store would be closed. According to store personnel, a final closure date has not been disclosed. 

Benton Best for Livability: Everyone’s favorite county has been listed the most livable in the state – with highpoints being wineries and breweries, and proximity to urban areas and hiking. The evaluation came from Stacker and was based on 2022 data from Niche. Click here for the methodology used. 

Long-term Jobs Projection: There will be 2,326,200 jobs statewide by 2031, and that’s a 13% increase from what it was in 2021.  

According to new projections from the Oregon Employment Department, that growth reflects recovery from low jobs levels in 2021 due to the pandemic recession, plus structural growth. Also, as many workers leave their occupations, jobs will open for replacement workers as well. 

The projected 265,000 job increase includes private-sector gains of 240,200 jobs, growth of 20,300 jobs in government, and an additional 4,400 self-employed Oregonians.

Leisure and hospitality is projected to increase the fastest and add the largest number of jobs. The projected gain of 60,100 jobs (34% growth) in leisure and hospitality is mainly driven by the recovery from the pandemic, as restaurants, hotels, and arts, cultural, and recreational establishments have seen increased demand as in-person and recreational activities resume. Leisure and hospitality lost 51,700 jobs in 2020 relative to 2019. In 2021, leisure and hospitality was still 39,100 jobs short of its 2019 level, so nearly two-thirds of jobs added over the decade will be due to recovering lost jobs. By comparison, in the last set of projections prior to the pandemic, leisure and hospitality was ranked the fourth fastest-growing sector.

The private health care and social assistance and information sectors are projected to be the second fastest-growing sectors (17% growth). Private health care and social assistance is also projected to add the second-largest number of jobs over the next 10 years. There may be little surprise seeing health care among the top sectors adding jobs, as it is one of the largest sectors in the state.

Private health care and social assistance is projected to add 45,900 jobs in the next 10 years. This growth is attributed to the aging of the state’s population, longer life expectancies, and long-term population growth. Within health care and social assistance, nursing and residential care facilities (26%); ambulatory health care services (18% growth), such as doctor and dentist offices, chiropractors, physical and speech therapists, and other specialists; and social assistance (18% growth) that includes individual and family services and child day care services are expected to grow much faster than hospitals (8% growth). Rapid growth in nursing and residential care services is driven primarily by recovery from the pandemic recession.

Information, a small sector comprised of establishments that produce and distribute information and cultural products, provide the means to transmit or distribute these products, and perform data processing, is projected to add 5,800 jobs from 2021 to 2031. Growth in this industry is driven by the recovery of the motion picture and video industry (63%), growth in data processing (31%), and software publishers (28%).

Construction is projected to be the third-fastest growing sector (16%) in Oregon, adding 17,800 jobs from 2021 to 2031. Growth in construction is expected to be widespread across its components including construction of buildings (16%), special trade contractors (16%), and heavy and civil engineering construction (13%).

While overall employment in many sectors is expected to grow beyond their peak levels, some sectors will fall short of their peak employment by 2031. Manufacturing employment is expected to grow by 9% to 203,100 jobs. That’s below its most recent peak of 207,300 jobs in 2006. Its all-time high was 228,600 jobs in 1998. In 2020, manufacturing lost 6% of its jobs (-12,700 jobs).

Financial activities sector employment is projected to grow by 3% to 105,200 jobs, about 1,400 jobs below its last peak of 106,600 jobs in 2007.

Both manufacturing and financial activities consist of industries growing in notably different ways. Some smaller components of manufacturing – such as transportation equipment manufacturing (19%) and primary metal manufacturing (24%) – show higher projected growth rates. In 2020, transportation equipment manufacturing lost 13% of its jobs (-1,700 jobs) and primary metal manufacturing lost 17% of its jobs (-1,600 jobs). 

Meanwhile, paper manufacturing (-10%) and sawmills and wood preservation (-2%) show projected declines by 2031. Both paper manufacturing and sawmills and wood preservation experienced stable employment in 2020. Paper manufacturing includes pulp, paper, and paperboard mills and converted paper product manufacturing. 

In financial activities, the real estate rental and leasing industry is projected to grow by 8%. Finance and insurance is projected to lose 2% of its jobs by 2031.

Several industry groups with the biggest projected losses relate to news media, production and distribution of various paper-related products, and retail trade. These include computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing (-38%); newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers (-33%); printing (-23%); pulp, paper, and paperboard mills (-19%); and electronics and appliance stores (-23%).

Projections show relatively modest growth in all broad areas of government. Federal government should continue to grow (1%). State government is expected to grow 5% and local government is expected to grow 8%.

According to the Department, whether growing rapidly or showing a net loss of jobs by 2031, all broad industries provide employment opportunities to Oregonians. The demand is clear in some industries. Slower growing sectors and declining industries still offer many job opportunities though, as there is a need to replace retiring workers or others leaving the industry. 

Women in Business Luncheon: Attorney Lorena Reynolds has been in private practice in Corvallis since 2004, and she is the managing partner of The Reynolds Law Firm, PC. She specializes in family law, victims’ rights, and social justice issues. In addition to being a mediator and arbitrator, she has litigated hundreds of cases, handled many appeals, and worked on policy and legislation at the state and local levels. 

She is a frequent speaker on a variety of legal topics, and has appeared a number of times at our CitySpeak town halls. Reynolds has also been a go-to for Advocate reporters seeking expert perspectives on a wide variety of civil rights stories over the years. 

Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 12 to 1 pm, at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Corvallis, 400 SW 1st Street. Click here to register. 

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