Portland: An Environmental and Manufacturing Hub

lanked by the Columbia and Willamette rivers, and with the Pacific Ocean just 78 miles to the west, Portland, Oregon, is a mecca for those who enjoy outdoor sports, such as:

  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • River rafting
  • Biking
  • Skiing
  • Wind surfing

Portland’s metro area has 37,000 acres of parks, including one of the largest urban parks in the nation — Forest Park — that boasts 5,000 acres with 50 miles of trails.

From Fishing Lines to Assembly Lines

It should come as no surprise that employment in Portland’s environmental industry has climbed in recent years. According to a July 1999 study released by the Sustainable Portland Commission, the Portland Development Commission and Worksystems, Inc., jobs in Portland’s environmental sector grew by nearly 4,800 between 1992 and 1997. Of that growth, 85 percent was in the engineering and architectural fields.

The study also cited the occupations in highest demand include:

  • Environmental planners/analysts
  • Environmental engineers
  • Water resources specialists
  • GIS and mapping technicians

In moderate demand are:

  • Environmental regulatory specialists
  • GIS/GPS specialists
  • Wastewater specialists
  • Environmental compliance technicians
  • Environmental conservation restoration technicians
  • Hazardous waste technicians

In addition to a booming environmental sector, Portland is home to more than 1,300 manufacturing companies. Major employers with Portland-area headquarters include:

  • Adidas America, Inc.
  • Columbia Sportswear
  • Epson Portland, Inc.
  • Freightliner Corp.
  • InFocus Systems
  • Louisiana Pacific Corp.
  • Norcrest China Co.
  • Oregon Steel Mills, Inc.
  • Pendleton Woolen Mills
  • Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc.
  • Sequent Computer Systems, Inc.
  • Tektronix, Inc.

Three Fortune 500 companies consider Portland home:

  • NIKE, Inc.
  • Pacificorp
  • Willamette Industries, Inc.

Dollars in Transportation, Tourism and Trade

Portland proper has a population of 508,500. The primary metropolitan statistical area, which consists of six counties (one of which is in Washington state), raises the population to 1.8 million — the largest metropolitan area in Oregon.

Other key segments of Portland’s economic base include transportation, tourism, and wholesale and retail trade. According to the U. S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, a strong economic climate has kept Portland’s unemployment rate low, fluctuating between 3.5 and 4.3 percent in the past six months.

The cost of living, while slightly higher than the national average, is lower than other major cities along the Pacific Coast, such as the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles and Seattle, according to the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association.

Following is a table of various positions in the area, along with 1998 statistics for number of workers, and average hourly and annual salaries.

1998 Metropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates

Portland-Vancouver (Oregon-Washington) PMSA

Job – Employment 1998 – Average Hourly – Average Annual

Chemists – 300 – $21.72 – $45,180
Computer Engineers – 3,340 – 31.02 – 64,510
Computer Programmers – 4,740 – 28.08 – 58,400
Financial Analysts – 270 – 26.10 – 54,290
Financial Managers – 4,590 – 27.66 – 57,530
Foresters & Conservation Scientists – 260 – 25.92 – 53,900
Geologists, Geophysicists And Oceanographers – 230 – 26.65 – 55,440
Home Health Aides – 1,310 – 8.40 – 17,480
Insurance Sales Agents – 2,370 – 20.99 – 43,670
Insurance Underwriters – 610 – 21.82 – 45,380
Lawyers – 2,780 – 33.86 – 70,440
Mechanical Engineers – 2,330 – 29.70 – 61,780
Medical Assistants – 2,000 – 11.35 – 23,610
Paralegals – 810 – 16.09 – 33,460
Personnel, Training and Labor Relations Specialists – 3,440 – 22.34 – 46,470
Registered Nurses – 12,060 – 21.65 – 45,040
Surveyors & Mapping Scientists – 300 – 23.00 – 47,840
Systems Analysts, Electronic Data Processing – 3,680 – 25.80 – 53,660

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Whether you love the outdoors, or simply enjoy the view, Portland might be just the right place for you to cast out your resume and reel in an exciting new job.

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