Weekly data from the Oregon Employment Department help us understand the impact of COVID-19 on the labor market. Since the beginning of the economic shutdown, workers in Portland Metro have filed more than 154,103 initial unemployment claims. This includes 4,603 transportation and warehousing workers, representing 14 percent of the industry’s total workforce. The sector employs three percent of all workers in Portland Metro and represents 3 percent of all initial unemployment claims filed since March 15, 2020.
These numbers do not represent all educational services workers who have lost their jobs. Faced with unprecedented demand, the unemployment insurance system currently has a backlog of claims. 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.
The transportation and warehousing sector includes industries providing transportation of passengers and cargo, warehousing and storage for goods, scenic and sightseeing transportation, and support activities related to modes of transportation.
The four largest occupations in this sector, which account for 43 percent of total employment, are all at high risk of automation. The Automation Index measures the potential for automation of common tasks within a given profession. On this scale 100 is average. An occupation with a score of 120 or more has a high risk of automation and anything above 130 has a very high risk of automation. Over time, the way work is organized and performed in these occupations will chance at an accelerated rate. This will lead to occupations shrinking from attrition and reduced hiring.
Nearly 400 occupations are found within the transportation and warehousing sector. Educational requirements range from less than a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree. Thirty-one percent of the sector’s occupations, which account for 44 percent of its current workforce, require a bachelor’s degree or higher. On the other end of the spectrum, fewer than 15 percent required no formal education.
Occupations in this sector tend to be middle wage. Sixty-eight percent of jobs in the industry pay a median wage between the 25th and 75th percentile of the regional median wage.