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Survey shows downtown Portland employment is healthy

Business owners and retailers list services for the homeless as a top concern

PORTLAND, Ore. – Newly released data from Downtown Clean & Safe showed employment, wages and businesses in downtown Portland all continue to grow. However, a majority of downtown business owners and retailers said they don’t think downtown has enough services to address the needs of the homeless.    
According to the 2015 Downtown Portland Business Census and Survey, employment in the downtown area grew by 2.4 percent between 2014 and 2015, from 94,937 to 97,281 jobs, with an overall wage growth of 7 percent. In addition, the number of businesses downtown increased by 3 percent, from 4,652 to 4,770.  
“The ongoing job and wage growth is great news for the region,” said Cindy Laurila chair of the Downtown Clean & Safe board, and manager of real estate and facilities at Portland General Electric. “Jobs increased in industries that typically pay a family wage such as construction, manufacturing and professional services.
“At the same time, the need stemming from Portland’s ongoing crisis of homelessness has grown and so has the impact of illegal behaviors, like open drug use in public spaces. Respondents reflected growing uncertainty about the cleanliness and safety of the downtown core, two attributes that have long been the bedrock of our livable community. This trend underscores the work we are doing with service providers and city leaders to find comprehensive solutions to livability issues. We must ensure that downtown is friendly to visitors, employees and business owners who invest in the urban core.”
Key report findings include:
  • A 2.4 percent increase in overall downtown employment, bringing the job count up to 97,281;
  • A 7 percent increase in wages for workers in the downtown area;
  • A 3 percent increase in downtown businesses, with the strongest growth in professional, scientific and technical services, bringing the total number of businesses up to 4,770;
  • A 3 percent decrease in the amount of people who feel downtown is safe;
  • A 16 percent decrease in the number of people who feel downtown is clean;
  • The top five concerns needing improvement included: transients, panhandlers, parking availability, parking costs and safety;
  • 66 percent of respondents say downtown does not have adequate services for the homeless;
  • 87 percent are satisfied when they call Downtown Clean & Safe for service;
  • A total of 85 percent of respondents reported their business is healthy.
The Downtown Clean & Safe District conducts the Business Census and Survey each year, surveying employers within the I-405/I-5 loop. The district partners with the Portland Development Commission on employment data provided by the State of Oregon. Other survey data was collected using mailed questionnaires, personal follow-up and block-by-block canvassing to obtain a statistically significant survey sample. Survey data was gathered from October 2014 to October 2015.   
Click here to view the entire Downtown Business Census & Survey results.
Downtown Clean & Safe District
Downtown’s Clean & Safe District was created more than 20 years ago to support additional cleaning and security in the central city. The district, funded by downtown property owners and managers, includes 213 blocks in the central city, and also supports market research and retail recruitment and retention efforts. The district is managed by the Portland Business Alliance under the direction of the district’s board of directors. Learn more at