In COVID-19, Equity/Diversity/Inclusion, Events, Quality Jobs

Since the last State of the Workforce Report was released in 2018, the Portland-Southwest Washington region has seen significant changes. The COVID-19 pandemic brought on historically high unemployment, unsustainable demands on social services and taxed community resources. Unprecedented inflation that outpaced personal income growth further added to the financial burden on area workers and their families.

As we emerge from the pandemic, the Portland-Southwest Washington region has recovered nearly all of the jobs that were lost since 2020 and employment growth has been strong. The pandemic has accelerated existing workforce trends, including remote work, e-commerce, and automation.

The Columbia-Willamette Workforce Collaborative (CWWC) — comprised of Clackamas Workforce Partnership, Workforce Southwest Washington and Worksystems — is working together to bridge the gaps between workforce supply and industry demand and align resources to prepare job seekers to succeed in today’s labor market. Using the data available in the 2022-2023 State of the Workforce Report, CWWC will work with regional partners and leaders to shape policy, consider investments, and implement strategies to improve the quality and health of the workforce.

The 2022-2023 State of the Workforce Report comprehensively covers the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, regional demographics, skills supply, demand for workers, and socioeconomic challenges facing the workforce. The report also provides thorough data on the region’s population, race and ethnicity, income, labor force, education, socio-economic wellbeing, commuting, and jobs and industry.

The State of the Workforce Breakfast took place on January 25, 2023 at the Ecotrust in Portland, Oregon with more than 130 business partners, community-based organizations, industry experts and higher education professionals in attendance. The program opened with labor market economist Dr. Liza Morehead, Data & Research Analyst at Worksystems, who gave a comprehensive evaluation of the region’s labor market and the continuing efforts to recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“In the years since the 2018 State of the Workforce report was published, we have witnessed a dramatic recession brought on by a global pandemic. We’ve seen an equally dramatic rebound in job. We’ve witnessed the rapid acceleration of trends that are shaping and reshaping where and how we work, live and shop, and many of us have reassessed the role that work plays in our own lives,” said Dr. Liza Morehead, Research and Data Analyst for Worksystems.

Dr. Morehead’s presentation covered data and trends in the labor force, education and the post COVID-19 economy. Her presentation also covered opportunities for the region’s businesses and job seekers, including increasing unionization, providing critical supports for workers, demanding higher-paying jobs and increasing regional job quality.

Following Dr. Morehead’s presentation, a panel of regional workforce development board Executive Directors shared their expertise on the future of the region’s economy and what we can expect from the labor market in 2023. The panel of Executive Directors included Bridget Dazey of the Clackamas Workforce Partnership, Miriam Halliday of Workforce Southwest Washington, and Andrew McGough of Worksystems.

The panel presentation fielded questions from the audience, exploring opportunities for regional solutions to the issues facing the regions labor force.

“Our society, our policies, the way that we operate, comes from a mindset of scarcity – this idea that there isn’t enough for everyone. It will take all of us to push back on that and rethink – that there really is enough for us all. We need to get creative in what that looks like,” said Miriam Halliday, Chief Executive Officer of Workforce Southwest Washington during the panel discussion.

As Southwest Washington’s regional workforce development board, understanding and responding to regional workforce trends is integral to economic growth and prosperity. Workforce Southwest Washington and the CWWC produce reports on industry and workforce data and trends. These reports help our teams keep a pulse on the region’s economy and respond with strategic workforce investments.

In addition to investing in the WorkSource and Next centers for adult and youth job seekers, respectively, WSW provides resources and services to Southwest Washington businesses. WSW’s business services include employee recruitment and retention, hiring young people, improving job quality, employee training, workforce data and more.

If your business is interested in responding to workforce trends and receiving business services from WSW, please contact Darcy Hoffman, Director of Business Services at or 360.608.4949 or submit a request and we’ll contact you.


Read the 2022-2023 State of the Workforce Report.

Watch the State of the Workforce Presentation.

View the State of the Workforce Presentation.

Download the State of the Workforce Handout.

Listen to the full audio recording of the State of the Workforce Breakfast. 

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