Every county in northwestern Oregon has been hit hard by the pandemic recession.
Trade restrictions and closures affected all counties; the travel industry, so important to the coast, has seen an unprecedented decline in business and employment; and Oregon State University in Benton County has ended in-person teaching. It is therefore not surprising that in 2020 gross domestic product fell in all five counties compared to the previous year.
Gross domestic product (GDP) is the value of goods and services produced in a region and is a key economic indicator.
Columbia County has experienced more modest GDP growth over the past 10 years. Columbia County’s GDP fell in the years after the Great Recession before rebounding further in 2015. It has grown 5.9% in real terms since 2010, a gain of $ 344 million. The growth is entirely attributable to the private sector, which grew by almost 12%. Government GDP fell 21% in Columbia County. Services, especially professional and business services and health care, fueled its GDP growth. Construction has also grown rapidly over the past 10 years. Manufacturing GDP declined from 2010 to 2020.
Clatsop County’s employment also saw solid GDP growth during the recovery from the Great Recession, and it was also hit hard by the pandemic recession. Clatsop County’s GDP grew by $ 437 million from 2010 to 2020, resulting in total inflation-adjusted growth of 4.7% over the period. The county’s growth has come primarily from its private sector service industries. Clatsop County’s retail and wholesale trade, health care, and professional and business services sectors have largely contributed to the county’s GDP growth.
Tillamook County has the lowest GDP in the region, but it topped the field for GDP growth (26%) from 2010 to 2020. Tillamook County, however, has not escaped the pandemic recession. Its GDP declined 5.1% from 2019 to 2020. Most of Tillamook County’s GDP growth from 2010 to 2020 came from private industry. Manufacturing, professional and business services output more than doubled during the period. Retail trade output increased by a third. Although the county has the lowest GDP in the Northwest region, its growth has led it to produce a larger nominal output gain (+ $ 427 million) than in Lincoln or Columbia counties and almost equal to the increase in Clatsop County. Quite impressive.
During the Great Recession, Lincoln County’s GDP fell six out of seven years between 2006 and 2013. In inflation-adjusted terms, it wasn’t until 2016 that the county’s GDP surpassed the level it had reached in. 2006. The pandemic recession then hit Lincoln County very hard. ; for two months, the county saw an unemployment rate of over 20% as its travel industry collapsed. The county’s inflation-adjusted GDP was actually 5.2% lower in 2020 than it was in 2010 during the Great Recession, even though nominal GDP increased by $ 302 million. Real private sector GDP has fallen 7.7% over the past 10 years.
Some industries in Lincoln County have developed. Retail trade grew 28% in real terms, and professional and business services grew 12%. Construction, finance, recreation and hospitality, and manufacturing saw the real value of their output decline compared to 2010.
Estimates from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) show that Benton County’s GDP grew by almost $ 1 billion from 2010 to 2020. After adjusting for inflation, this resulted in real growth of 8. , 7%. Employment in Benton County was on a strong growth path for years until the pandemic. The effective shutdown of Oregon State University resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs and GDP fell 2.4% in 2020. The county still has not fully recovered.
Benton County provided 42.5% of the region’s $ 11.2 billion GDP in 2020. Benton County’s large public sector jobs provided a measure of stability during the pandemic and the region’s real GDP. government grew by 12.4% in the 10 years to 2020. Private sector GDP grew by 7.7%. The main private sector industries contributing to growth are professional and business services, retail trade and health care.
The BEA makes estimates of gross domestic product at the county level.
Erik Knoder is a regional economist in the Oregon Department of Employment. He can be reached at 541-351-5595.