According to Moody’s the Portland economy is expected to boom over the next three years with an annual growth rate of 7.3%.  As a result, Portland is the second fastest in the U.S. Forbes ranks Portland third on its “2015 List of The Best Places for Business and Careers” which is up 18 spots from 2014.  Curious to see the industries fueling Portland’s hot job market?  Look no further!

Why Portland?

Portland is a hub for innovation and a workforce talent magnet. With a metropolitan labor pool growing at 6 times the national average.  Companies in Portland have an established recruiting base with deep pools of skilled workers across all industry sectors.  Notably drawing upon  technology, software, clean tech, active and outdoor apparel and footwear

Furthermore, with global connections and the most competitive cost of doing business on the West Coast Greater,  Portland is able to offer the talent infrastructure and connectivity.  As a result, the region is a great place for business and a quality of life that allows people who live here to be skiing or surfing in just one hour from the urban core.

Portland offers many advantages to workers and employers.  Including the downtown core and Willamette River to outlying suburbs including Hillsboro, Clackamas and Gresham, Oregon and Vancouver Washington.  With this in mind, employers have options on where to locate where it makes sense to their bottom line while workers have diverse career paths to choose from in the private public and nonprofit sectors.  Highly trained and talented candidates help the industries fueling Portland’s hot job market.

A Talent Magnet

Greater Portland has the advantage of drawing on a widely talented and diverse workforce exceeding 1.02 million.  As a result, the Greater Portland area has experienced a 5-year population growth rate of 4.8%.  The region is expected to gain an additional 400000 people by 2035. Greater Portland’s workforce is educated and growing:

  • Thirty-one percent of the workforce holds a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • As a whole 91% of the region’s workforce has at least a high school diploma.
  • Portland’s workforce is experiencing a year-over-year job growth of 2.04%.

In looking to expand a company the ability to attract talent is of significant importance. Greater Portland is one of the most significant talent magnets in the nation with an annual net migration of more than 4000 people who are 25 and older holding Bachelor’s Degree or higher. Of the largest 50 U.S. metro areas,  Portland and Seattle ranked in the top 15 for each period analyzed, 1980 to 2010.  Both cities had the highest rate of attracting and retaining young college educated migrants. Because of this, the region consistently attracts desired talent even throughout “boom and bust” cycles.

The Industries Fueling Portland’s Hot Job Market

Portland supports numerous industries in diverse areas. This is not an exhaustive list.  However, the list outlines the industries fueling Portland’s hot job market.

High tech

The Portland high tech industry continues to grow with high tech employee hiring reaching a 12-year high. The software side of high tech has grown almost 50% in just the past 10 years with companies like Jive Software Puppet Labs and Jama Software.


 Manufacturing in Greater Portland is highly productive and a large segment relative to other metro areas. In 2014 manufacturing workers made up nearly 11 percent of Portland metro’s workforce with 107000 jobs. Portland metro is a national leader in specialized areas of manufacturing such as high tech electronics and specialty metal fabrication. For example Precision Castparts Corp. is a worldwide diversified manufacturer of complex metal components and products.

Athletic/outdoor apparel

Surrounded by natural beauty and a heritage of environmental stewardship it’s no wonder that Portland is home to the highest number of large and small athletic apparel and outdoor recreation companies in the United States. Locally headquartered firms include Nike Columbia Sportswear the North American headquarters of Adidas  Icebreaker Keen Danner Boots Poler Outdoor Stuff Wildfang Leatherman and. Internationally known brands such as Nau Lucy Dakine and Under Armour all have a large presence in Portland.


In Greater Portland the healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy. Although Portlanders are relatively healthy, healthcare is big generator of jobs in Portland. Four of the top ten employers in the region are healthcare providers.  For example, Portland had over 113000 healthcare jobs in the metro area and revenue generated by traded-sector activities in the healthcare industry amounted to $1.9 billion.

Wholesale trade

 The Port of Portland is the third largest export tonnage port on the West Coast.  With import and export shipments of $15.4 billion annually.  Easy access to the north/south and east/west interstate freeway system, international air service and both west coast intercontinental railroads make Portland an important distribution center.

Software IT Industry Growth

The Greater Portland software industry is enjoying steady growth.  Not to mention, maintaining competitive wages that are at or below national average.  Additionally the number of qualified jobseekers in the region has been on the rise for the last 10 years.

The existing workforce within the software/IT supporting industries indicates a robust talent base serving an established industry. Once Portland attracts the talent it keeps it. The greater Portland region has the lowest turn-over rate of many of its competing regions.  As a result, the job market in Portland is very competitive.

Educating and Training a Better Workforce

The greater Portland region is home to roughly 30 higher education institutions.  In a like manner, seven of which offer established degree programs in computer science, software, engineering, electrical engineering and digital media. Combined these programs generate nearly 1000 graduates per year.   In fact, University records indicated that an estimate 69% of these graduates stay in the region to work after graduation fueling the job market in Portland.

Recognizing that talent is a critical issue for business growth, business leaders are partnering with public organizations.   So as to fill the talent pipeline by training 10000 Oregonians to land high-paying coding and technology jobs.

Treehouse headquartered in Portland is an online education platform focused on teaching high-demand programming languages.  These programs include, iOS, Android, HTML, CSS, WordPress, PHP, Python, JavaScript, Ruby and more.   Additionally, Worksystems the local workforce development organization will sponsor up to 10000 students providing additional career services mentoring and training to get those students job-ready.