Multnomah County’s Aging Workforce by Industry in 2021

by Jake Procino

May 24, 2023

Multnomah’s workforce is aging. The number of Multnomah workers age 55 and over nearly tripled in the 30 years from 1992 to 2021, increasing from 36,000 to over 105,000. The share of the workforce 55 and older more than doubled in the same time period from 10% to 22%. Driving this trend is that the entire Baby Boomer generation is now 55 and older, and they are more likely to be in the labor force than previous generations were at ages 55 and beyond. Many of these workers may plan to retire in the next 10 years, taking their skills and experience with them.
Graph showing more than one out of five Multnomah County jobs are held by workers aged 55 or older

With the relatively smaller Gen Z generation entering the workforce, workforce aging is expected to continue in the coming years. Its impacts will be felt across industries, as there are fewer laborers available to replace retiring workers. It impacts employers, industries, and regions to varying degrees. Employers should know the age profile of their own workforce so they can plan accordingly for increased turnover and recruitment efforts due to retirements. At a broader level, workforce planners need to know the demographic profiles of entire industries and regions to help gauge the need for future replacement workers.

Health Care Has the Most Workers Age 55 and Older in Multnomah County

The age of the workforce varies by industry. The health care and social assistance industry has far and away the most workers age 55 and over, with about 16,700. Proportionately, however, this accounts for only a middling 23% of the workforce. Educational services with 9,668 workers and manufacturing with 8,502 have the second and third most workers 55 and older in Multnomah County.
Table showing workers ages 55+ at or likely within a decade of retirement

In addition to having a large number of 55 and over workers, the manufacturing sector also has the second highest share of workers 55 and over with 28%. Utilities has the largest share with 29% of the workforce being age 55 or older, though that only encapsulates about 500 workers. Employers in these and in all other industries need to plan for how they are going to attract replacement workers, especially for jobs that require significant training.

Multnomah County and the Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area Have a Relatively Young Workforce

Multnomah’s workforce tends to be younger than in Oregon, where the share of workers 55 and older sits at 24%. Compared with other counties in Oregon, Multnomah is tied for the smallest share of workers 55 or older in the state with Washington and Deschutes counties, both sitting at 22%.

Although older workers are a smaller share of the workforce (23%) in metro counties, there are a lot more of them. Multnomah alone has more workers ages 55 and older (106,000 workers) than all of rural Oregon combined (64,000). However, Multnomah has nearly as many jobs held by workers ages 45 to 54 (102,000). Meanwhile, rural Oregon has fewer jobs held by workers ages 45 to 54 (47,000). Employers in metro counties will generally tend to have a larger pool of younger workers to recruit from when replacing retiring workers.
Graph showing the largest 50 MSAs share of workforce age 55 and older

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) tend to have larger pools of younger workers compared with the U.S., and the Portland MSA is no exception. In the Oregon portion of the Portland MSA, the share of the workforce age 55 or older sits at 22%. Compared with the top 50 MSAs in the U.S. by employment size, the Portland MSA tends to have a younger workforce. The Providence, Hartford, Miami, and Pittsburgh MSAs have the largest share of 55+ workers amongst the bunch, all at 27%, while the San Juan, Austin, and Salt Lake City MSAs have the smallest shares, all at 19%.

Employment by Age Data

Information about employment by age group for industries and counties is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program and the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) partnership with the states. Employment data is the average of quarterly employment for 2021.

To explore and use the data available from LED, visit

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