Capable Oregon Workers: Economists have been concerned for years that the American workforce is in danger of suffering a loss of a generation of skilled tradespeople. These are the employees that make factories run, construct structures, and move commodities into and out of warehouses.
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The concern was that, when older workers began to retire, there would not be a new generation of younger workers to take their place and learn the crafts.
At least in the state of Oregon, it seems like the skills gap is getting less.
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, the proportion of Oregonians between the ages of 19 and 24 who are employed in the trades has been gradually increasing, and it has just reached a level not seen since the 1990s. This is the opinion of state economist Josh Lehner, who has been following developments regarding this matter for the previous few years.
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Lehner stated in a study that he conducted in the spring of last year that “even as a proportion of all young Oregonians, such employees are all the way back to where they were during the height of the housing boom.”
Economists use the term “trades” to refer to many fields of labor that need individuals with specialized training but do not require a degree from a four-year institution. Employers will pay a premium for those talents; for example, according to data provided by the state of Oregon, construction workers earn an average of more than $40 an hour.
Because of Amazon’s meteoric rise in the number of distribution facilities it operates, the warehousing industry has seen the most rapid increase in the number of young people entering the workforce in recent years. According to the Employment Department of Oregon, this industry saw the fastest salary growth over the course of the previous year, growing by 11% to a total of $26.85 per hour. That’s a tiny bit higher than the median pay in the state.
The news is not entirely positive.
A new generation of skilled Oregon laborers is getting to work https://t.co/eqodLt7R3J
— Oregonian Business (@OregonianBiz) December 18, 2022
The number of young people employed in industries in Oregon has been relatively constant throughout the course of the last six years. This is reflective of trends in the industry as a whole. Even while the number of people working in construction has increased significantly since the height of the Great Recession, it is still 5% lower than it was during the housing boom in 2007.
As consumers moved their attention back to traditional retail establishments in the aftermath of the epidemic, the warehousing sector saw a slowdown this year.
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Lehner stated that despite this, Oregon has a greater percentage of young people working in the trades than the rest of the country combined. And despite the fact that the state is still dealing with a manpower shortage, he stated in the most recent statement that trends among these skilled labor occupations are not becoming any worse.
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