Industry job growth rates

These rates are projected for 2017-27.

Construction: 35 percent

Self-employment: 19 percent

Information: 19 percent

Health care and social assistance: 19 percent

Professional and business services: 18 percent

Leisure and hospitality: 13 percent

Manufacturing: 13 percent

Financial activities: 12 percent

Retail trade: 11 percent

Wholesale trade: 11 percent

Government: 3 percent

Source: Oregon Employment Department

In Oregon’s latest 10-year employment projections, Central Oregon leads the state with a 15 percent growth rate.

The Oregon Employment Department said Tuesday the region is expected to add close to 15,000 jobs by 2027. Central Oregon and the Portland metro area are the only two regions where job growth is expected to outpace the statewide average of 12 percent, the employment department stated.

“The reason we have been tasked with these numbers is to be a guide for the education system and the workforce system — and the workers themselves,” said Damon Runberg, Central Oregon regional economist. “Construction’s supposed to keep growing at a rapid pace, so if you want to consider going into a construction occupation, it’s not a bad decision.”

Construction will be Central Oregon’s fastest-growing industry, adding 2,350 jobs, a 35 percent increase, according to the state projection.

Health care is expected to add even more jobs: 2,540, a 19 percent increase.

The number of openings could be even higher because of workers retiring and moving to new careers. “We are going to be in a significant labor crisis for the next 10 years probably, based on demographic trends,” Runberg said.

While the projections take into account the pace of automation in various occupations, state economists don’t attempt to predict the next economic downturn, Runberg said. The job-growth forecast is updated every two years.

Employers are still trying to figure out how to fill their current labor needs, which are greatest in health care and construction, said Heather Ficht, executive director of the East Cascades Workforce Investment Board. The workforce board’s priority is helping employers fill jobs in construction, manufacturing, health care and technology, she said.

In health care, St. Charles Health System and Mosaic Medical are trying to recruit people into training as medical assistants, nurse’s aides and pharmacy technicians. “We have the training available. We’re just not seeing the students,” Ficht said.

There are multiple training programs available for construction trades, but employers are working to better coordinate their efforts, Ficht said. Housing costs continue to be a barrier in recruiting and keeping employees happy. The Jefferson County School District this summer will use a $240,000 state grant to renovate a small group of houses on the Warm Springs Reservation rented by teachers working at the Warm Springs K-8 Academy and add one manufactured home, Superintendent Ken Parshall said.

“It’s a raindrop on a forest fire, to be honest with you,” Parshall said. Only about half the district’s teachers live in Jefferson County because of the lack of housing, he said.

Central Oregon employers are talking about the possibility of building housing, or offering forgivable loans for down payments or rental assistance, said Scott Aycock, community and economic development manager at the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council. But it will probably take state or federal assistance in the form of tax breaks before they’re willing to move ahead, he said.

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