The Diversity of Oregon’s IndustriesOctober 6, 2022
Oregon’s total nonfarm employment is less racially and ethnically diverse than average across the United States. The private sector of the U.S. workforce in 2021 included 24% non-white employment compared with Oregon’s 14%. Moreover, the ethnic diversity of the U.S. is more robust than Oregon – Hispanic or Latino workers hold 17% of private employment in the U.S. compared with 13% of all jobs in Oregon. Oregon’s lack of diversity in the workforce at large is almost entirely due to the overwhelmingly white population in Oregon. In 2020, Oregon ranked 30th among the states in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Diversity Index. Even with limited diversity in Oregon’s total nonfarm employment, it is worth observing which industries are most diverse, and examining how diversity by industry could potentially lend itself to an inequitable recovery following the pandemic recession in 2020.
Industries with the greatest racial diversity are defined here as those with the greatest average employment of people of color, meaning people from a race group other than white alone. In 2021, Oregon’s most racially diverse industries included accommodation and food services (17.5% share of people of color); manufacturing (17.1%); management of companies and enterprises (16.6%); transportation and warehousing (15.4%); and administrative and support and waste management and remediation services (14.2%). These are aggregate measures, but the differing industry shares of employment by each race is where the real differences lie.
For example, Asian workers hold 6% of Oregon’s total nonfarm employment. However, their highest shares of industry employment lie in manufacturing (9.6%); management of companies and enterprises (8.4%); and accommodation and food services (7.2%).
Aggregate Black or African American employment in Oregon is 3%, while their shares of industry employment are highest in administrative and waste services (4.7%); transportation and warehousing (4.5%); and health care and social assistance (3.7%).
American Indian or Alaska Native workers account for 1% of Oregon’s employment. Their highest shares of industry employment are in public administration (2.8%); agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (2.2%); and accommodation and food services (2.2%).
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander employment in Oregon accounts for just 0.5% of total employment. This cohort’s share of industry employment is highest in transportation and warehousing (1.0%); manufacturing (0.6%); and administrative and waste services (0.6%).
Workers who identify as two or more race groups comprise 3% of Oregon’s total nonfarm employment. Their highest shares of industry employment are in accommodation and food services (4.5%); retail trade (4.0%); and arts, entertainment, and recreation (3.9%).
The least racially diverse industries are those that have the greatest shares of white employment. These industries include mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (93.9% white); utilities (91.5% white); construction (91.2% white); real estate and rental and leasing (88.9% white); and educational services (88.9% white).
Looking at the ethnic diversity of Oregon’s industries, we see a similar trend in many industries for their lack of diversity, though some are significantly more diverse than others. For ethnicity, individuals are classified by the Census as either “Hispanic or Latino” or “Not Hispanic or Latino.” People of Hispanic or Latino origin may be of any race.
The industries with the greatest share of ethnic diversity include agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (32.3% Hispanic or Latino employment); accommodation and food services (17.7%); administrative and waste services (17.2%); manufacturing (16.0%); and construction (14.2%). The industries with smallest share of ethnic diversity include utilities (6.9%); professional, scientific, and technical services (7.0%); and information (7.1%).
One important caveat is that these employment metrics capture only a small portion of agricultural employment because the majority of the industry’s employment is not covered by unemployment insurance. As a result, the share of diverse employment in agriculture is likely understated in these graphs.
Job Recoveries in the Most Diverse Industries
While there is no significant correlation between employment recovery after the pandemic recession and an industry’s racial or ethnic diversity, accommodation and food services – the most racially diverse and the second most ethnically diverse industry – was the hardest hit industry from the pandemic. The recovery has been relatively slow for accommodation and food service. At the end of 2021, the industry’s employment remained 11% below pre-pandemic levels.
Another industry that ranks high in its diversity is manufacturing (2nd racially and 4th ethnically). The manufacturing industry shed 7% of its jobs at the onset the pandemic. At the end of 2021, the industry was still 5% below pre-pandemic levels.
The Beauty of the World Lies in the Diversity of its People
Oregon doesn’t have the most diverse workforce in the nation – far from it – but the diversity of the workforce has increased as decades have passed. In 2001, people of color held only 9.1% of total nonfarm employment. In 2021, that share increased by nearly 5 percentage points to 14.0%. With respect to ethnic diversity in employment, Oregon’s share of Hispanic or Latino employment was only 6.9% in 2001. As of 2021, that share almost doubled to 13.0% of total nonfarm employment. Diversity – in all its forms – is beneficial for all involved. It enhances creativity, encourages an array of perspectives, and leads to better decision-making and problem solving. People of different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences coming together can be quite a powerful thing in building a more balanced labor force.