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Construction and Oregon’s Economy

Construction Accounts for $8 Billion of Oregon’s Economy in 2014

Report from Associated General Contractors of America shows continued economic growth and rising wages in construction

hardhatsOregon’s construction industry accounted for $8 billion of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014, according to a new report from the Associated General Contractors of America. The report shows that the sector has slowly but surely regained over a third of the local jobs lost during the most recent recession.

Private nonresidential construction was a significant contributor to this increase, with statewide spending topping out at $4.6 billion in 2014. This represents a huge leap compared to 2009 when it totaled a mere $2.1 billion statewide.

“There is clear but uneven growth in our industry,” said Mike Salsgiver, executive director of AGC’s Oregon- Columbia Chapter. “Vertical construction is growing, but we need Congress and the state legislature to fund our transportation programs.”

Overall, the report is good for Oregon jobs. In the past five years, construction employment has grown by over 13,000 jobs. Even with these gains, the job count remains 17 percent lower than the industry’s pre-recession peak of 103,300 in August of 2007.

“It may sound counter intuitive, but even with 21,000 fewer workers than our industry had eight years ago, we’re experiencing a tremendous shortage of skilled workers,” Salsgiver said. “Contractors are having a tough time filling vacancies, and that’s a problem we’ve got to address.”

Due to this labor shortage, construction wages are up nearly 14 percent since 2009. The average wage within the state last year was $53,300.

Construction accounted for 3.5 percent of Oregon’s $216 billion GDP in 2014. Nationally, construction contributed $653 billion to the United States’ $17.3 trillion dollar GDP.

AGC’s leaders say deferred maintenance on Oregon’s transportation infrastructure is likely the biggest thing holding the industry back. “No one needs to drive very far to see how badly we need to invest in our transportation system,” Salsgiver said. “Our roads, highways, and bridges have billions of dollars in deferred maintenance, and it’s time for the state to put together a bipartisan plan to address those critical needs.”

A full copy of the report can be found here. Data was compiled by Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America.

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