A look into Portland-metroís traded sector

Traded Sector Report Summary
(3.5MB pdf)
Traded Sector full report data

In December 2010, the Value of Jobs Coalition began an effort to gain a better understanding of the Portland-metro regionís economy. The goal of this work was to inform policy-makers and the general public about the regionís economic challenges and opportunities and illustrate how private-sector jobs support our regionís quality of life and public services.

The following study, focusing on Portland-metroís traded sector, is a continuation of this effort, and it sheds some new light on why the traded sector is a critical part of the regionís economy. Before the coalition commissioned this study, we knew it was important that state, regional and local economic development strategies were centered on growing traded-sector jobs. For example, Portland recently issued one of the nationís first metro international export strategies. The following pages, however, reveal even more reasons why Portland-metro should support a strong and healthy traded sector.

Highlights include:

  • Expanding the Portland-regionís traded-sector firms can help small business and inspire business creation. At the same time, the report shows an unsettling decline in the regionís new business creation rate.
  • Generating more traded-sector jobs may increase family incomes because, on average, traded-sector workers earn about $15,300 more per year.
  • The traded sector is competitive and changes over time. To be successful in growing, retaining and attracting future traded-sector jobs, the region must invest in its human, natural and physical capital.



Average percent more a Portland-metro, traded-sector worker earns per year compared to a local-sector worker.


Number of local-sector jobs created by one high-skilled traded-sector job on average.


Number of new businesses created in Oregon per 10,000 adults in 2011, comparable to the U.S. average, but below 1999-2001 level in Oregon.


Average wage of a Portland-metro, traded-goods sector worker.


Average wage of a Portland-metro, traded-services sector worker.


Average wage of a Denver-metro, traded-goods sector worker.


Average wage of a Seattle-metro, traded-services sector worker.


Percentage increase of inflation-adjusted wages in Portland-metroís traded-goods sector since 1970 (faster than the U.S. metro average).

The higher wages from traded-sector jobs have another important benefit: in our income-tax-dependent state, traded-sector jobs will, on average, generate more revenue for critical services like schools, health care and social services than local-sector jobs. For example, to generate the state taxes to pay for one teacher you need to create about 150 new average wage local-sector jobs, but only 90 new average wage traded-sector jobs.

Through this study, we hope to engage policy-makers in constructive dialogue about how the region can focus on the factors that attract and retain these firms. By doing so, we can continue to build a stronger and more diverse economy for the Portland-metro region and a sustainable base from which important public services, and a good quality of life, can be funded.

This report examines Portland-metroís traded sector - the industries and employers that are located here but sell the majority of their goods and services outside Portland-metro. The report looks at how Portland-metroís traded sector is faring and its impact on the regionís employment, wages and overall economic health. The research was conducted by ECONorthwest at the request of the Value of Jobs Coalition, which consists of Portland Business Alliance, Port of Portland, Associated Oregon Industries, Oregon Business Council and Oregon Business Association.

Portland-metro in this report refers to the Metropolitan Statistical Area of Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro,OR-WA MSA. Other metro regions in this study are based on the Metropolitan Statistical Areas used by the U.S. Census Bureau.