From Oregon Economic Development Guide 2022

Built for the Long Haul

Oregon’s economy outperforms competitors in key metrics.

National Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman State Park near Brookings, Oregon
Photo courtesy of Barberstock


Popular television shows like Yellowstone tend to glamorize the Western lifestyle, but the truth is often less tension-filled and more predictable. 

Take Oregon, for instance. There’s really nothing flashy about the state. It’s picturesque and a nature lover’s dream, but it seldom makes national headlines for its performance.

Exports from Oregon have steadily increased each of the past five years, setting a new record each year, with $24.8 billion in exports in 2020.

Instead, it’s steady and built for the long run. In economic performance, Oregon posted the second-best 5-year run in the country from 2014 to 2019 with a gross state product growth of 4.1%, reaching $222.4 billion in 2019. According to IBISWorld, the GSP of Oregon is expected to grow by another 3.0% from 2019 to 2022.

That may not make headlines, but the bottom line is that companies calling Oregon home are doing not just well, but much better than the national average. 
Here are other metrics that should capture the attention of site selectors:

  • Oregon ranks No. 2 among the 50 states in infrastructure, according to U.S. News & World Report.
  • Oregon ranks No. 13 in fiscal stability, per USN&WR.
  • Oregon ranks No. 8 in WalletHub’s annual report on Best State Economies.
  • Oregon ranks fifth in innovation potential, per WalletHub.
  • With more than 160,000 businesses, Oregon ranks No. 4 in total business growth rate in the country, according to IBISWorld, with a 5-year growth rate of 3.4%.

Oregon’s population growth rate is tenth best in the country.

Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, subjects itself to meticulous performance metrics each year. On multiple counts, the economic development performance of Oregon is steady and solid.

In fiscal year 2021, Business Oregon set a record in jobs retained with 10,670, nearly double the agency’s target goal of 5,600 and more than 5 times the 1,937 jobs retained the year before.

In personal income tax generated by Business Oregon’s investment in job creation, the total grew from $7.2 million in 2020 to $18.76 million in 2021 — an increase of 162%. 
In CNBC’s annual ranking of Top States for Business, Oregon ranks No. 10 in technology and innovation and No. 16 in life, health and inclusion.

In terms of factors that matter the most to site selectors, Oregon scores exceptionally well. For starters, Oregon has zero sales tax, which translates into millions of dollars of savings for manufacturers purchasing equipment on a regular basis. Moreover, its tax expenditure limits are third best in the country, and its average workers compensation costs are seventh best.

Oregon’s gross product growth from 2014 to 2019 ranks No. 2 in the U.S.
Source: IBIS World

Based on a variety of factors, Rich States Poor States rates Oregon as having the ninth best-performing economy in the nation. That ranking is comprised of three measures based on a decade-long performance metric, from 2009 to 2019. 

Oregon’s cumulative GSP growth is No. 7 in the U.S. over that period, while its cumulative domestic migration ranks 10th and its non-farm employment growth ranks 11th. 

Downtown Salem, Oregon
Photo: Getty Images

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.


Businesses that plant their roots in America's Heartland reap the benefits year over year.

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