New data from the Oregon Employment Department show the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the labor market. Since the beginning of the economic shutdown, workers in Portland Metro have filed more than 167,554 initial unemployment claims. This includes 3,000 real estate, rental, and leasing workers, representing twenty percent of the industry’s total workforce. (Table 1) The sector employs two percent of all workers in Portland Metro and represents two percent of all initial unemployment claims filed since March 15, 2020.
In Portland Metro, continued unemployment claims for this sector peaked at 1,542 in May. By August, the number of continued claims had decreased to 1,029. (Table 1a) This is likely a combination of workers returning to employment and others running out of benefits.
These numbers do not represent all workers who have lost their jobs. Not all workers are eligible for unemployment, including workers who did meet the threshold for hours worked during the past five quarters and undocumented immigrants.
Real estate, rental, and leasing jobs peaked in February. Compared to other sectors, the job loss in this sector was mild. At the low point in May, jobs in Portland Metro has declined ten percent. In Oregon, the low point was April, and the job loss was slightly larger, twelve percent. By August, many of those jobs had retuned and employment levels were close to the peak: ninety-five percent in Oregon and ninety-four percent in the Portland MSA. (Table 2)
Demand for workers continues to be low. Between July and August, job postings for nine of the top ten real estate, rental, and leasing occupations were down between ten and sixty-one percent from the previous period last year. The exception was home health and personal care aides which was up six percent. (Table 3)
The real estate and rental and leasing sector includes businesses primarily engages in renting, leasing, or otherwise allowing the use of tangible (real estate or equipment) or intangible assets (patents and trademarks). The sector also includes businesses primarily engages in managing, selling, renting, and buying, and appraising real estate.
Roughly 275 occupations are found within real estate, rental, and leasing. Many of the largest occupations are relatively unique to the sector and not often found elsewhere in the economy (e.g. property, real estate, and community association managers, real estate sales agents, and real estate brokers). (Table 4)
Occupations in this sector tend to be middle wage. Seventy-seven percent of jobs in the industry pay a median wage between the 25th and 75th percentile of the regional median wage. Although the distribution is heavily weighted to jobs that pay below the median wage. (Table 5)
Educational requirements range from less than a high school diploma to a Bachelor’s degree, although the need for a college education is the exception rather than the rule: Sixty-three percent of the sector’s occupations, which account for over 80 percent of its current workforce, require no more than a high school diploma. On the other end of the spectrum, 28 percent required a bachelor’s degree. (Table 6)
Prior to the pandemic, Portland Metro’s real estate, rental, and leasing sector was expected to expand by 1,500 jobs between 2017 and 2027 for a growth rate of 6 percent; less than half the rate of the overall economy.