Finding a Job in Portland, Oregon

Nike_swooshOregon has two Fortune 500 companies:  Nike and Lithia Motors. Nike is located in Beaverton, Oregon, a western suburb of Portland and Lithia Motors headquarters is in southern Oregon. Precision Castparts was a Fortune 500 company until Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett) purchased them in August 2015 and they became part of Berkshire Hathaway, a public company. Precision Castparts, founded in 1953, makes metal parts for airplanes, energy companies, and heavy industry. The company’s headquarters remain in Portland.

Oregon has four other companies that are on the Fortune 1000 list and include Columbia Sportswear, Greenbrier Companies, StanCorp Financial Group and Schnitzer Steel Industries.

The majority of Portland businesses are small to midsized, meaning they employ less than 500 people. Portland doesn’t have Seattle’s business might − there are no Boeing and the high-tech wealth of Microsoft and other software companies. It used to have a large wood products business, but that industry while still important to the state’s economy, has diminished.

Now Hiring

You see them all over the Portland metro area:  signs that read “Help Wanted” or “Now Hiring.” Yes, Portland’s economy is booming and that means jobs are plentiful. We have many start-ups along with companies from the bay area and Seattle opening offices and plants in the Portland metro area. Sandwiched between these two high-cost areas, Portland is a money-saving alternative to the high-cost housing and labor prices in Seattle and San Francisco.

Here’s a good example of the job market in the metro area. Adidas has effectively doubled its Oregon employee base over the last several years, from around 800 in 2014 to 1,700. It’s done so by spelling out specifically which types of workers it wants. For instance, in Portland, there’s a need for marketing and communications pros, product developers, financial whizzes and digital experts. They compete with Nike and Under Armour for workers.

The job market continues to bustle in Oregon where the number of nonfarm workers jumped by 3 percent year-over-year in June 2017. What’s more, the state counted fewer long-term unemployed residents: the number of Oregonians who unemployed for more than six months is the lowest on record, dating back to 2002. The total number of such residents was 10,700 in June 2017. In contrast, the figure exceeded 100,000 in 2010, the aftermath of the Great Recession.

The Portland Business Journal took a look in August 2017 at 13 companies to see whether they’re hiring, and to what degree. You can click on the photos to discover who’s adding positions in the current fertile economy. 

According to the governor, “One in four job openings in Oregon’s tech industry is currently filled from out of the state.” Melody Rose, the president of Maryhurst Univesity in Lake Oswego, wrote in an op-ed piece in February 2018:  “Similarly, growing technical fields, such as advanced manufacturing, bioscience, energy, healthcare and information technology, are having difficulty finding skilled workers in Oregon. We have plenty of hard-working Oregonians right here. There should be no reason for companies to outsource their hiring outside of the state.”

Comparing Living Costs Between Portland and San Francisco and Seattle

NerdWallet Cost of Living Calculator shows that the cost of living is 28% lower in Portland compared to San Francisco. If you make $125,000 in San Francisco, you need to make $89,868 in Portland in order to maintain the same standard of living. The cost of living is 11% lower in Portland compared to Seattle. If you make $125,000 in Seattle, you need to make $111,033 in Portland to maintain the same standard of living.

Portland Has a Large Manufacturing Base

Manufacturing is especially important in Oregon, overall high-tech manufacturing accounts for about 10 percent of economic output  eight times the share nationally. Yet since 2007, Oregon has lost about 40,000 of its 200,000 manufacturing jobs. National contract manufacturers have left the state in droves, heading overseas or to lower-cost domestic locales. RadiSys Corp. has moved the last of its Hillsboro manufacturing to Asia. Suntron Corporation closed its Newberg plant, laying off 190 workers. Solectron Corp. closed its Hillsboro plant and laid off 160, moving work to California and Mexico. Benchmark Electronics Inc. closed in Beaverton, laying off 180 and moving work to plants in Minnesota and Texas. Intel still employs about 15,000 – 16,000 in the metro area and continues to invest in new plant expansion. Some large high-tech companies thrive. Beaverton-based Merix Corp., for example, was sold in 2010 to Viasystems Group. The St. Louis-based giant primarily assembles circuit boards abroad, but retained Merix’s Forest Grove electronics assembly plant for defense business, quick-turn jobs and prototypes. Hillsboro-based TriQuint Semiconductor, with 845 Oregon employees, makes components for wireless communication. It has added more than 800 employees company-wide since 2006 and plans to add about 160 more for a total 2,760.

Solar panel companies have taken over some of the chip plants as this industry is growing and retrofitting a chip plant to a solar panel plant is relatively inexpensive. Oregon has used subsidies and other incentives to attract solar companies. Japan’s Sanyo Electric Co. employs about 200 at a Salem solar plant. Germany’s SolarWorld employs about 900 workers in Hillsboro.

Many services-based ecosystems have bloomed in the last few years:  microbreweries, bike shops, advertising agencies and apparel firms.  It’s a business ecology that prizes progressive social values and livability, not raw wealth and power.

Portland is big into shoes mainly because Nike has created a pool of talented shoe designers in the area.  Shoe companies in the Portland area include Danner, Lacrosse, Columbia Sportswear, Keen, and Le Coq Sportif. They do the design here but almost all the manufacturing is done overseas.  But it takes more than designers to make a successful shoe company.  For example, a special skill-set is necessary to understand and negotiate the contracts with Pacific Rim companies for the manufacturing.

A good example of taking this business ecology one step further into actual manufacturing is United Streetcar, LLC (a subsidiary of Oregon Iron Works, Inc.).  United Streetcar and SKODA have partnered to produce modern, efficient, American-manufactured streetcars and to be a pioneering force in increasing urban transit options throughout the United States.  In 2009, United Streetcar completed manufacturing the first Buy-America compliant modern streetcar for the City of Portland, Oregon. These cars will be on the streets of Portland in 2010. Many other cities in the USA have expressed an interest in purchasing United streetcars.

Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities Annual Report

Each year, the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities report identifies the latest trends and most relevant factors powering regional growth. Their index uses a comprehensive, fact-based set of criteria to rank the nation’s metropolitan areas. Among them are job creation, wage gains, and technology trends that shape current and potential patterns of growth. For job-seekers, the Milken Institute’s report is a handy tool that shows metro areas where employment opportunities exist. 

National Websites for Finding a Job in the Portland Metro Area

  • All Job Center  Job Viewer/Resume Broadcaster automatically retrieves job listing from major job search engines,  broadcast resumes to multiple positions, automatically compose cover letter according to a job description, automatically dispatch job to a specific folder, and automatically highlight keywords.  Job seekers can use All Job Center to work off-line, organize jobs and submit multiple applications with one click.
  • Best Driver Jobs  They work with a number of carriers that haul freight in the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
  • BestJobsUSA  A site with many claims — it displayed over 1,000 jobs in Portland for “all categories.”  Check out “America’s Best Places to Live and Work” – Portland is number ten.
  • Career Journal Sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, this site is targeted at the upwardly mobile professional.  Relocation information and a salary calculator.  Free.  PC Magazine “Editor’s Choice” in May 2002.
  • Career Builder  Searched for all jobs in Portland under the Quick Search and stopped counting at 100 plus.  You can post a resume, career resources, and three methods of searching.  No advanced registration to search for a job.
  • Career Jet  Career Jet gives job seekers access to a large selection of jobs that are sourced from various internet sites.
  • Craig’s List  It’s free!
  • Dice   Dice is an online Information Technology ( IT ) job board with high tech permanent, contract, and consulting jobs.  
  • Entry Level Jobs  This website holds thousands of avenues for aspiring workers to find entry-level employment.
  • Flip Dog   Very colorful and big tabs to click on so easy to navigate.
  • Glassdoor  This site had over 31,000 jobs posted in May 2018. Glassdoor is more than a “help wanted” site as it has reviews of companies, salaries, and more.
  • Green Jobs  Learn more about fields like ecotoxicology, marine biology, pollution prevention, and urban forestry.
  • Job-Applications  Job seekers resource that provides printable and online applications for financial institutions, airlines, retail and department stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc. In addition, they have useful employee videos.
  • Job Apps  It’s a site that provides downloadable applications, jobs in the viewer’s local area as well as salary information. They have profiled over 2,000 companies in the past.
  • Jobs  All jobs/all category/Portland Oregon:  Search resulted in 80 jobs.
  • Jobs2Careers  A job search along with career advice.
  • Indeed  The Indeed website is a complementary and comprehensive search engine for jobs provides the latest job opportunities.
  • Monster  The Monster is a well-known site.  Monster displayed upwards of 1,000 jobs in the Portland area.
  • Net-Temps  Primary a site to find a “contract job” but also full-time perm positions listed.
  • Poached Jobs  A jobs site specific to the restaurant industry.
  • Renewable Energy  Jobs in the renewable energy field.
  • Top Jobs Applications  TJA offers a variety of careers in retail stores, restaurants, fast food stores, pharmacies, ice cream parlors, department stores and grocery shops.
  • Trucking Jobs  Truck driving jobs are listed at the site with many of America’s trucking companies.
  • ZipRecruiter  Job seekers can see when a company has viewed your job application.

Oregon’s New Paid Sick Leave Law

On June 22, 2015, Oregon became the fourth state to enact a statewide mandatory paid sick leave law. The bill requires Oregon employers to provide up to 40 hours of sick leave to employees per year beginning January 1, 2016, and in most cases that leave time must be paid.

Who Is Impacted?
Employers with 10 or more employees (six or more for Portland employers) will be required to provide their employees who work in Oregon with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Smaller companies are not necessarily off the hook — employers with fewer than 10 employees (fewer than six for Portland employers) will also be required to provide employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave, but this bank of leave time can be unpaid.

The law applies to the vast majority of Oregon’s workforce, including full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees. There are limited exceptions, including independent contractors, employees receiving paid sick leave under federal law, certain work-training program and work-study program participants, certain railroad workers, and individuals employed by their parent, spouse, or child. The law applies to both private and public-sector employers but excludes the federal government.

Local Websites for Finding a Job in the Portland Metro Area

  • Creative Staffing: Mathys+Potestio  Mathys+Potestio provides creative agencies, design firms and corporate marketers with creative talent on a contract, contract-to-hire, or direct hire basis. For key hires, they offer retained search services. The company also promotes employee empowerment and growth by helping clients manage their talent resources.
  • Edge Link  A boutique firm offering personalized services in IT staffing and recruiting.
  • Jobs Dango  Their slogan is “Northwest jobs for Northwest people.”
  • Mac’s List  Portland’s source for jobs in the city and throughout Oregon. You can also receive job information by subscribing to their free weekly newsletter published every Tuesday or follow us Mac’s List on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.
  • Oregon Business Magazine  The magazine publishes the “100 Best Companies in Oregon to Work For” annually.
  • OregonLive/The Oregonian  OregonLive is the website for The Oregonian (Oregon’s largest newspaper).  You can connect with the Help Wanted ads from The Oregonian. The OregonLive/The Oregonian website also has a career section where you register, post your resume, etc.
  • Oregon Tradeswomen  Dedicated to promoting success for women in the trades through education, leadership, and mentorship.
  • Portlandtech  This amazing website grew out of an email list compiled by David Duncan, who works at WorkSource in the Oregon Employment Department focusing on the tech sector in the Portland metro area. The site design is simple, and it links to the career pages of companies that are either purely technical or have technical departments.
  • Portland Business Alliance  A not-for-profit “Chamber of Commerce” type organization. They sell a number of publications to help job seekers such as the Largest Employers in the Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan Area.  Click on “Publications” at their website to order.
  • Portland Business Journal  They have jobs posted by 27 different categories.
  • Portland Recruiter  Company maintains 15 plus “recruiter” sites (e.g., Seattle Recruiter, etc.) in major US cities.
  • PDX Jobs  Commercial search firm that lists only a handful of jobs.  For example, only three high-tech jobs were listed.  Registration required but they do offer a visit.

Not-For-Profit Websites for Finding a Job in Portland

  • WorkSource Oregon  WorkSource Oregon offers a variety of services including skill training resources, workshops, and tools all designed to help you find a new or better job in today’s competitive job market. Oregonians looking for work should connect with their nearest WorkSource Oregon Center to find WorkSource Oregon staff and services dedicated to helping Oregonians get back to work. Visit your local center today.  Here is a link to the different WorkSource Oregon Center Locations.
  • Oregon Bioscience Association  OBA’s mission is to promote the growth and quality of the bioscience industry in the State of Oregon and ensure it achieves its full economic and social potential.  OBA is a non-profit association with membership open to any company, organization or individual with an interest in biotechnology, medical devices, or the life sciences.
  • Portland tech  This amazing website grew out of an email list compiled by David Duncan, who works at WorkSource in the Oregon Employment Department focusing on the tech sector in the Portland metro area. The site design is simple, and it links to the career pages of companies that are either purely technical or have technical departments.
  • Oregon Employment Department  Lists job opening throughout the state of Oregon.

Women and Diversity Sites for Finding a Job

  • Career Women  Career portal by and for women.  Post your resume, search CW job bank, career women resources and more.
  • Diversity Search  Diversity career portal for minorities, females and other diversity job seekers and diversity recruiters.
  • Femfessional  Femfessional is a savvy business woman characterized as positive, open-minded, driven, professional, ambitious and desirous of forming strong strategic connections with similar minded professional women to benefit each other personally and professionally and to benefit their community.

Green Job Resources

Employers in the Portland area that are devoted to green technology:  Portland Energy Conservation Inc. (electricity generation), and Vestas (wind power).

Online Green Jobs Boards

Green Social Networks

Green Drinks  Beer, conversation, and a chance to network with other environmentally minded people.  The group meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, first floor, Ecotrust, 721 N.W. Ninth Avenue.  Green Drinks also meets in Oregon cities such as Eugene, Hood River, and Vancouver. Find your city at

Education Institutions to Help You Prepare for a Green Job

Government grants can help pay for training. In most cases, laid-off workers enrolled in an approved program can continue to receive unemployment benefits. To determine eligibility, find the WorkSource Center near you at WorkSource Portland Metro.

Employers in The Portland Area

  • AT&T  The world’s largest communications company.
  • Fred Meyer  Known as Freddie to the locals — this is where many Oregonians purchase their food, hardware, garden supplies, etc. Freddie is a subsidiary of Kroger.
  • Freightliner  Makers of heavy-duty trucks.  The corporate office and largest assembly plant are located in Portland with about 4,000 employees. A  subsidiary of ChryslerDaimler.
  • Hewlett Packard  One of the high-tech employers in Oregon.  Most of the jobs are in Corvallis which is 75 miles southwest of Portland and Vancouver.  HP is reducing the number of Oregon employees as jobs are being outsourced and shifted overseas.
  • Intel  Oregon’s largest private employer with about 15,000 employees in the Portland area.  Chip fab plus R&D center.
  • Legacy Health Systems  Legacy employees 8,500 people in Oregon working in their hospitals and clinics.
  • Macy’s  The Meier and Frank department stores have a long history in Oregon.  The Meier and Frank name disappeared in 2007 as the popular Pacific Northwest chain was purchased by Macy’s.
  • Nike  The whoosh!  One of two Fortune 500 companies in Oregon  they employ about 3,500 at their corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Their career site:
  • Oregon Health Science University   Depending on how you count, it is one of Portland top employers (over 11,000 employees).  You will want to consider OHSU for a job as its reputation is increasing daily as a top health research and healthcare facility.
  • Providence Health System  A not-for-profit healthcare company (hospitals and clinics) with facilities in Alaska, California, Oregon, and Washington.  Providence is the 2nd largest employer in Oregon with 13,700 jobs.
  • Tektronix   Corporate headquarters is located in Beaverton (the first suburb west of Portland) and the first high-tech company in Oregon.  Tektronix is focused on five key product areas:  1) Oscilloscopes, 2) communications (lead-generation RF and broadcast test solutions), 3) networked video,  4) television (Tektronix is the world’s leading supplier of television test solutions),  5) and Digital,  and Accessories.  The printer division was sold off in 1999.
  • Wal-Mart Stores  The “Always Low Prices” company has 11,000 employees in Oregon.
  • Top 100 Companies in Oregon  The region’s Top 100 companies to work for.

Government/Public Employers in Portland and Oregon

  • City of Portland  There always a large number of vacancies.  Online applications can be submitted.
  • Metro Jobs  The regional governing body for the area.  They offer jobs at the following:  Regional parks and Oregon Zoo — Metro also oversees the operations of the Oregon Convention Center, the Portland Center for the Performing Arts and the Expo Center.
  • State of Oregon  State of Oregon job listing — most of the state jobs are in Salem (50 miles south of Portland) the State Capitol.
  • State of Oregon  JobNET allows you to search your local area for 10,834 jobs listed with the Oregon Employment Department and for jobs that are posted elsewhere on the internet. JobNET searches not only for your desired occupation but also related occupations that may be a good match for your skills.

Education Employers in The Portland Area

Staffing/Employment Agencies

With numerous staffing/employment agencies located in the Portland Metro area, it is impossible to list them all.  We suggest the following:

  • Search the Dexknows online telephone directory for Portland and use the category “Employment Services: Employment Agencies”.
  • American Staffing Association  The American Staffing Association (ASA) and its affiliated chapters advance the interests of staffing and recruiting firms of all sizes and across all sectors through legal and legislative advocacy, public relations, education, and the promotion of high standards of legal, ethical, and professional practices. ASA members provide the full range of employment and workforce services and solutions, including temporary and contract staffing, recruiting and permanent placement, outplacement and outsourcing, training, and human resource consulting.A member association of staffing companies. This is a membership organization.

Oregon Labor Market Information


  • Mindshare  pdxMindShare was founded in 1999 by Anvil Media, Inc., as a means for exploring the future of the Internet through some of the top thinkers in Portland, Oregon. Post dot-com crash, the mission evolved into helping technology and marketing professionals of all types connect and find work.
  • Oregon Entrepreneurs Network  OEN is a hub for entrepreneurs, startups, investors, and service providers. OEN can help you connect with just about anyone you need to meet.

Networks for Women

  • ChickTech  ChickTech is dedicated to retaining women in the technology workforce and increasing the number of women and girls pursuing technology-based careers. They facilitate hands-on technology-centric events to empower, support, and increase the confidence of women and girls.  Through events, ChickTech builds community, empower participants to see themselves as leaders and provide networking and mentoring opportunities in the rapidly growing high-tech industry.
  • PDXWIT  PDX Women in Tech exists to celebrate professional women in the Portland-metro area who work with, manage, lead or have an interest in technology.
  • The Link for Women  Networking dinners, education, and workshops, leadership development programs for executives.
  • WeLuncheon  Networking lunches every six weeks.
  • Women Entrepreneurs of Oregon  70 members; monthly networking dinner and marketing opportunities.

Portland Metro Area Largest Employers

  • Intel Corporation – 17,500
  • U.S. Federal Government – 17,500
  • Providence Health Systems – 15,239
  • Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) – 14,616
  • State of Oregon – 14,200
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest – 11,881
  • Legacy Health Systems – 10,436
  • Fred Meyer Stores – 10,237
  • City of Portland – 8,558
  • Nike – 8,000
  • Portland Public School, – 6,266
  • Multnomah County – 5,616
  • Wells Fargo – 4,617
  • Portland State University – 4,353
  • U.S. Bank – 4,000
  • Beaverton School District, 3,905
  • Portland Community College – 3,255
  • Vancouver School District – 3,200
  • Southwest Washington Medical Center – 3,300
  • Precision Castparts – 3,000
  • Daimler Trucks North America – 2,800
  • New Seasons Market – 2,700
  • Trimet – 2,600
  • The Standard – 2,115
Source:  Portland Business Journal