Prosper Portland has been committed to the growth of middle-wage jobs through our programs and practices. In FY 21-22, through our partnership with Worksystems Inc, nearly 1,200 adult and youth participated in workforce development programs. Of these participants, 60 percent were BIPOC individuals. These partnerships are imperative to address Portland’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the spring of 2020, the Portland region lost 180,000 jobs, equal to 14.5% of all jobs, in the COVID crisis. As shown in Figure One, Portland has added 194,400 jobs since April of 2020. That is 1.2% more jobs than we had in February 2020. For comparison, the United States has 0.5% more jobs. Over the last 12 months, the Portland region has grown by 5.2%, compared to the US figure of 3.6%.

As seen in Figure 2, each Portland industry has experienced the COVID crisis and recovery differently. The construction industry lost almost 7,000 jobs and has quickly rebounded in the recovery. The construction industry can play a vital role in wealth creation and middle-wage jobs for communities of color. Accordingly, Prosper Portland’s business and workforce equity policies ensure that public construction projects prioritize the utilization of COBID-certified firms. Construction projects exceeded the compliance goal of 20 percent at 42 percent, with $1.4M going to minority-owned firms.

The manufacturing sector has more than recovered all jobs lost since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership has been a key partner in helping Oregon businesses become more competitive in the global marketplace. The accommodation and food services sector lost about half of all jobs and has still not fully recovered. Similarly, retail was hard hit and has yet to recover. The Mercatus business directory and My People’s Market have each played a significant role in showcasing Portland’s BIPOC-owned businesses and providing new market opportunities for entrepreneurs of color.