Two-year report shows mostly sunny snapshot of Tualatin’s economy

Lam Research, Tualatin’s largest employer.
Lam Research, Tualatin’s largest employer. Mike Antonelli/Tualatin Life
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Heading into year three of Pandemic uncertainties, the City of Tualatin’s recently released 2020-21 Economic Snapshot draws a by-the-numbers portrait of stability and growth across most industries, with wages rising and unemployment falling.

Rents continued to rise, wringing more from renters in an already perilous housing market; food processing took strides as Tualatin’s fastest-growing industry; and corporate and finance workers saw the biggest earnings leap.

“(The numbers are) going to be a little skewed because 2020 is the latest update we have from the Oregon Employment Department and then 2021 is basically the retail market,” said Jonathan Taylor, Tualatin economic development director, in a report to the City Council.

The city’s Economic Development Division focused largely on stabilization and supporting businesses through the uncertainties of COVID-19, distributing $1.2 million in relief to childcare and more than 120 businesses, about 90 percent of which are still operating.

“I’m really proud of how we managed these monies compared to other areas across the country,” said Councilor Bridget Brooks, commending Taylor for his leadership.

Unemployment dropped to 2.6 percent, lower than county and statewide rates, as 148 new businesses added 985 jobs in 2021. Nearly 98 percent of available retail space is occupied.

The biggest wage gains were seen in the smallest sector, corporate and financial, where the average annual salary nearly doubled to $84,000, while job growth was a robust 40 percent in the high-paying technology sector.

The average salary for Tualatin’s nearly 4,000 tech workers hit six figures, climbing 18 percent to $111,000 annually.

Wages also rose in advanced manufacturing, a long-time pillar of the economy, both in Tualatin and the larger metro area, but employment in the sector fell 11 percent over four years. According to the report, closures, company acquisitions, and expansions outside the city contributed to the dip.

“As has been the historical case for Tualatin, the industrial market is very strong,” Taylor said. “And the office market has remained relatively stable.”

Tualatin needs industrial spaces to accommodate expanding businesses eyeing the city for potential relocation. Mayor Frank Bubenik noted that developable land is among the city’s biggest obstacles.

“Tualatin is a community where businesses come to grow,” Taylor said, noting that Brew Dr. Kombucha moved to the city from a basement in Portland.

Basalt Creek, which became Tualatin’s first investment area in more than two decades with 717 acres marked for commercial and industrial development, will accommodate some of that need in the coming decades.

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