Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

-Megan Patrick-Vaughn can be reached at


I ran across a fascinating tool on the National Retail Federation website this morning that was the best educational time suck I’ve had in a while. It gives state-by-state, district-by-district breakdowns of the employment impact of the retail sector. Those of you who, like me, enjoyed statistics may have fun giving it a whirl.

I learned that the Third Congressional District (us) has 56,188 retail jobs at 3,614 retailers – that’s 17.15 percent of the district’s total employment. Exploring further, the Third District has $11.74 billion in retail sales, which makes up 10.8 percent of the state’s retail sales. Not bad.

So where are the jobs? Like most districts, our largest employers are restaurants and bars (32 percent), followed by department stores and super stores (16.5 percent) and grocery and liquor stores (12 percent). Our smallest retail employers are in catalog and Internet sales (1.6 percent).

That got me curious about how we stack up against the Portland metro area. Oregon’s Third District (both the Third and Fourth districts include the Portland metro area, but their numbers are nearly identical, so I opted for the Third), boasts $12.6 billion in retail sales, 20.6 percent of the state’s sales. Restaurants and bars account for 43.7 percent of employment, followed by grocery and liquor stores (10 percent). But employment in the big-ticket item categories is not as different as you’d expect.

Southwest Washington employs more people in the motor vehicle sales sector (8.7 percent vs. 7.45 percent), whereas Oregon’s Third District employs 2.5 percent in electronics sales (2 percent here) and 2.7 percent in furniture stores (1.6 percent here). It will be interesting to watch how these numbers change after we emerge from the downward spiral we’re on now.

What is your experience? Do these numbers reflect the employment situation we find ourselves in?


VBJ Reporter said...

Posted by site Admin:


So if we have 10.8% of the retail for our state and we have 11.1% (1/9) of the Congressional districts of the state, we are pretty close to carrying our portion of the retail load. And, considering so much of our population is a short drive from tax-free retail in Oregon, we are doing pretty well at overcoming the loss of retail business to Oregon. Just some food for thought.

Ed Orcutt