Report takes deep look at East County economy
Annual Economic Check-up finds disparities in jobs, housing, work-life balance compared to the rest of the region.
Although the economy in the greater Portland region is doing well, East Multnomah County has special problems that need to be addressed to ensure that its residents prosper equally, according to a new report.
Problems include wage inequity, cost-burdened households, and a live-work imbalance that impacts the work force and contributes to the strained transportation network in the region.
East Multnomah County is a special focus of this year's annual regional Economic Check-Up conducted by the Value of Jobs Coalition and released by the Portland Business Alliance on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
The report defined East Multnomah County as everything in the county east of Interstate-205, which includes the cities of Gresham, Fairview and Wood Village. It found a number of positive economic indicators there, including the fact there were 99,216 total jobs last year, closely matching the 102,361 in Portland's Central City.
But the report also identified the following problems:
- Live-work imbalance. The majority of residents in East Multnomah County don't work there, while the majority who work there don't live there. There is a higher share of workers commuting in and out of the area than in the rest of the county, or either Washington and Clackamas counties.
- Cost-burdened renters. Although homeowners in East Multnomah County are more likely to have housing that is affordable based on their income than homeowners across the region, almost 60 percent of renters are cost burdened — meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing.
- Wage disparities. Economic disparities exist at income levels across all industries in East Multnomah County. Virtually all industry sectors have lower average wages than the rest of the region. The few industries with higher wages only employ a small number of workers.