Oregon jobs drew 59K Clark County residents in 2011

2011 numbers put state's non-resident workforce at 99K

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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A new Oregon Employment Department report on that state's non-resident workforce notes that nearly 99,000 of its workers are residents of other states, with well over half of those workers flowing into the state from Clark County.

Oregon's non-resident workforce in 2011 — the most recent year for which numbers are available — included 59,102 jobs in Oregon held by workers who lived in Clark County, according to Nick Beleiciks, the Oregon employment economist who was one of the report's authors. Washington overall contributed 80,910 of Oregon's out-of-state workers, with second-place Idaho sending just 6,501 workers to Oregon in 2011, according to the report released Monday.

The huge number of commuters from Clark County to Portland is "a reminder of how integrated the two economies are," Beleiciks said.

Employment-wise, as any commuter can attest, it's largely a one-way street: just 14,482 jobs in Clark County in 2011 were held by Oregon residents, the economist said.

The large commuter flow has obvious social, economic and tax implications on both sides of the Columbia. With regard to taxes, the personal income tax liability to Oregon by non-resident workers was $350 million in 2011, or 7 percent of the state's total income tax liability, which is the state's largest source of general fund revenue, the report said. Some $208 million of that total came from Washington residents.

"In fact, Clark County would rank eighth among Oregon counties for Oregon personal tax liability (if it were in Oregon)," the report said.

Statistically, however, the large influx of non-resident workers reflects poorly on Oregon. The state's per capita personal income in 2013 was $40,233, which is about 90 percent of the national average of $44,543. Out-of-state workers generated $3.2 billion in earnings that are not reflected in Oregon's per capita income number, since it counted as income in the states where the workers reside.

"That's an average of $32,091 per resident worker that is not counted as personal income in Oregon," the report says. Without that outflow of income, the report concluded, Oregon's per capita personal income in 2013 would have been about $800 higher, putting Oregon at 92 percent of the U.S. average. Washington's per capita personal income average in 2013 was $47,031.

The Oregon Employment Department study notes that the number of non-resident workers in that state has grown steadily in the last decade, from 72,244 in 2002 to 98,960 in 2011. The number of Oregon residents working in other states increased from 30,369 in 2002 to 48,317 in 2011.