Two industries stand out in Marion County: government and natural resources. Nearly one-quarter of its jobs are in some level of government. Of course, the state capital is Salem, and state government provides 13% of county jobs versus only 4% in Oregon as a whole. Similarly, almost 7% of the county’s employment is in natural resources and mining, more than double the statewide average. Agriculture, the main natural resources activity, helps fuel more than 4,000 food manufacturing jobs — one third of the county’s manufacturing jobs. Government, agriculture and food processing tend to be more stable than other industries. Strong roots in these industries helped the Salem metro area, including Marion and Polk counties, weather the recent recession better than the state overall. Despite no growth in state government employment, the Salem metro area’s job growth outpaced the state from 2001 to 2006.
— Pat O’Connor, regional economist
WorkSource Oregon Employment Department
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