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More folks commute into Hillsboro for jobs than out

Beaverton, Forest Grove see mass exodus of commuters

Fresh off the Labor Day holiday, it's worth taking a different sort of look at job growth, which is one of the biggest measures of the health of our country's economy.

The usual focus is on how many people are employed. For instance, the U.S. added just 151,000 non-farm payrolls (jobs) for the month of August 2016. Economists were expecting a gain of 180,000. The 151,000 number was considered below average, which suggests the Treasury will hold off raising interest rates for another month.

Yet it's also worth looking at where people are employed — a detail that affects traffic, business and people’s family lives.

The Census Bureau estimated that in 2014, 41,821 Hillsboro residents had some sort of primary job.Of those only 27,982 (67 percent) traveled outside the city to go to work, while 13,839 (33 percent) both lived and worked in the city.

Meanwhile, 52,745 workers commuted to their Hillsboro jobs from outside the city — nearly twice as many as residents heading away from the city to work.

That trend is even stronger in Portland, where roughly 265,000 residents had a primary job in 2014. Of those, only 104,000 (39 percent) traveled outside the Rose City to go to work.

By contrast, 234,000 non-city dwellers came to Portland for their jobs. So over twice as many were heading into Portland to work as commute the other way.

That’s a lot of back and forth, and it explains why Highway 26 West, I-5 and I-84 can be at a standstill any time of day.

The primary commuting direction is reversed farther west in Washington County. In Forest Grove, 8,887 residents had a primary job, and about 84 percent of workers — 7,454 residents — traveled outside the city to go to work, leaving only 1,433 (16 percent) who both lived and worked in the city. By contrast, 4,896 people lived elsewhere but traveled into Forest Grove for their jobs.

Those trends increase in Cornelius, where 4,741 residents had a primary job of some sort. Of those 4,446 (94 percent) traveled outside the city to go to work while only 295 (6 percent) stayed in the city. Meanwhile, 2,034 outsiders traveled to Cornelius to work.

That doesn't mean all the commuters were driving to or from Portland. Many likely lived or worked in the nearby cities, including Cornelius, Banks and Gaston or unincorporated county areas that make up western Washington County.

Beaverton presents yet a different picture. In 2014, there were 42,000 Beaverton residents who had a primary job of some sort. Of those, about 34,000, or 81 percent — almost as high as Forest Grove's percentage — traveled outside Beaverton to go to work. But unlike Forest Grove, many more non-city dwellers (55,000) came to Beaverton for their jobs.

Oregon was a leader when it came to recognizing Labor Day

The first state to introduce a bill to turn Labor Day into an official holiday was New York, but the first to pass such a bill and turn it into law was Oregon, on February 21, 1887.

Seven years later, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

Labor Day began as a celebration of blue collar workers. Since then it has turned more generally into a final hurrah for summer partying before school and the political season resume. It’s a day for last cookouts and police tracking drunk/texting drivers.

But technically, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, it's “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”