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View Poll Results: Was Portland difficult to find a career level job?
YES 50 64.94%
NO 27 35.06%
Voters: 77. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-12-2015, 06:12 PM
 
Location: US
578 posts, read 500,003 times
Reputation: 574

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After friends and loved ones twisted my arm, I decided to move to Portland. Before I left, I heard rumors to line up a job before I got there. Despite my advanced degrees and years of experience, I was unable to land a single interview. When I got there, I hit the ground running looking for work. The employment development office wasn’t much help, and there was a large number of good people that couldn’t find work. It wasn’t until after a few months did I finally land a job, but the only one I could find was a fixed term contract. It paid less than what I was getting before, and it offered no benefits, or really any job security. I essentially need to keep looking for something better when the contract date comes up. This was something I have never experienced in other job markets. Employment opportunities and work was always steady.

Cost of Living: Everyone says the cost of living is fantastic here and this couldn’t be further from the truth. This may have been the case 15 years ago, but not now. A 1 bedroom apartment, in a desirable Portland neighborhood, was around $1,500 per month! This is on par with other major metropolitan centers. I settled on a 2 bedroom in Southwest (not far from Beaverton) in which is still expensive; and the rent keeps going up. It’s not what I consider the heart of the city either.

The real estate market seems over inflated. The local economy definitely does not support a median house price of 400-500k. Not everyone that lives here are getting the salaries of Intel and Nike. While no sales tax is nice, the state income tax in Multnomah County is nearly the same as in the most expensive states.

Weather: It was great when its summer. The climate was warm and sunny and I would go out for outdoor activities nearly every weekend. There is an abundance of great hiking and biking trails. Once October hit, the weather did a 180 and became constantly rainy and overcast. It would be like this for weeks on end and apparently stays like this until April. In the winter, the surface temperatures are often below zero, yet it doesn’t snow, and you get what’s called freezing rain. People who say that the occasional rain and gloom doesn’t bother them, really need to understand that this weather is like this nearly 8 months out of the year. If you ever lived in a southwestern state, where nearly every day is sunny and T-shirt weather, this may be a big adjustment; not to mention a costly warm weather wardrobe.

Economy: The economy is lousy. There are only 2 fortune 500 companies in the entire region. It’s Intel and Nike. Both reside outside of Portland proper. Intel is entirely in Hillsboro (almost what I would consider an exurb of Portland), and Nike is moving a lot of its support staff to its Hillsboro offices too. If you live in NE or SE Portland, this can be quite a distance to travel.
Also just because these are huge job centers doesn’t mean that qualified applicants can apply for a job and get in. It’s globally competitive. For instance, much of Intel’s staff were relocated from other recently shut down locations. Many of the other newcomers are expatriates from overseas. Unless you’re an all-star engineer, it’s not going to be easy to get a permanent, well-compensated position. As for Nike, it’s an apparel company mostly focused on design, sales and administration. While it would appear that there are a lot of openings, it’s not as much as you think. Most of these jobs are filled either by internal staff or networked/referrals. External hire fills are really not that abundant. Yes there are exceptions, but not usually for the permanent roles. Both Intel, Nike and other work centers rely on a huge contingent work force (temp workers), and they are constantly being turned over when projects or work dies down.

For folks thinking they can just waltz into town and strike it big at one of these companies may find it surprising difficult. This seems to be the consensus of what I’ve read on Glassdoor. Plus anecdotal evidence suggests that many employers use this leverage (of the poor economy and high labor market), to overwork their staff or pay below market wages, because the employees do not have other options. I thought maybe the public sector would be stronger, but those opportunities never materialized to anything either.

In downtown, there are a few other name brand companies, but they are smaller branch offices. Portland’s downtown really doesn’t have that many corporations. It’s a lot of high rise condos, retail, industrial, and public buildings. Portland’s main economy seems to be heavy rail, ship/air transportation, food services, and goods harvested from the Willamette Valley. Even if you’re in a recession proof profession such as medicine, nursing, law or, software engineering, you’ll likely be able to find work, however be prepared for being offered a lower salary then in other competitive markets.


Traffic: The city’s infrastructure is not meant to handle the current population. While it’s definitely worst during commuting hours, it can be hell to get in and out of the city. What adds to the congestion is that there are limited bridges crossing over the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Since these rivers split the town into 4 quadrants, there is no other alternative routes to cross to get around. A few of the bridges don’t have much lanes/capacity either. This leads to what can be up to an hour in one way commuting or leisure times. An attempt to solve some of these traffic ailments has completed failed. A new bridge was made this year but is off-limits to vehicular traffic. In fact, I tried to walk over it one time, but it was still closed to pedestrians. There is some decent public transit options, but I haven’t lived close enough to a station to take advantage of them. The one to two lane roads in SW and beyond cannot handle the commuting traffic.

People: The people aren’t as tolerant as the media would lead you to believe. There is a noticeable uneasiness of transplants (especially ones from California), and it wasn’t until I got my Oregon plates did the drivers start being more polite. I don’t see a lot of minority owned businesses either. The local news occasionally reports hates crimes as well. While people can be friendlier than other places I’ve lived, it can be difficult to actually convert those conversations into more meaningful relationships. In fact Forbes magazine had an article that Portland was the #1 most unhappy city. (America?s Unhappiest Cities: Portland, Ore. - BusinessWeek).

So basically I’m ready to leave, but it’s not so simple. What do most people do when they discover that it’s not the greener pastures that most people make it out to be? My former co-worker (before I moved to Oregon), returned to Seattle and is doing quite well. Seattle, while still having the typical NW weather; jobs and economy, from all reports, appears to be leaps and bounds better to that of Portland.
As I’m not the only one fed up with the job situation, what do Portlanders do once they find themselves without a job or underemployed? They must do something to facilitate their careers and support their families.
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Old 12-12-2015, 07:43 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
23,798 posts, read 41,457,887 times
Reputation: 25661
what do Portlanders do?...a few hundred per month move to Vancouver.

Seattle has higher pay and more job opportunities (at a cost...traffic / housing / HUGE metro area)


What is your skillset? There USED to be significant manufacturing and Union jobs in Portland. (teamster / dock workers / steel / construction) . Depending on your skills / career aspirations, your desired JOB may not exist in Portland metro! This is no 'secret'! it is well publicizedpaying that Portland is a wasteland for good paying / career centric jobs. .

Portland has a glut of available workers and minimal good paying jobs. (Trendy place to live, so people STAY and find some type of work). Another city with similar issue is Ft Collins. CO. Zillions of unemployed ex-high tech workers + college grads who want to stay = glut of available workers = low pay / few jobs.

There are still a few good jobs in Portland, you just need to find and secure one. (or head to another spot).
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:05 PM
 
981 posts, read 1,147,535 times
Reputation: 1557
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrishawke View Post
After friends and loved ones twisted my arm, I decided to move to Portland. Before I left, I heard rumors to line up a job before I got there. Despite my advanced degrees and years of experience, I was unable to land a single interview. When I got there, I hit the ground running looking for work. The employment development office wasn’t much help, and there was a large number of good people that couldn’t find work. It wasn’t until after a few months did I finally land a job, but the only one I could find was a fixed term contract. It paid less than what I was getting before, and it offered no benefits, or really any job security. I essentially need to keep looking for something better when the contract date comes up. This was something I have never experienced in other job markets. Employment opportunities and work was always steady.

Cost of Living: Everyone says the cost of living is fantastic here and this couldn’t be further from the truth. This may have been the case 15 years ago, but not now. A 1 bedroom apartment, in a desirable Portland neighborhood, was around $1,500 per month! This is on par with other major metropolitan centers. I settled on a 2 bedroom in Southwest (not far from Beaverton) in which is still expensive; and the rent keeps going up. It’s not what I consider the heart of the city either.

The real estate market seems over inflated. The local economy definitely does not support a median house price of 400-500k. Not everyone that lives here are getting the salaries of Intel and Nike. While no sales tax is nice, the state income tax in Multnomah County is nearly the same as in the most expensive states.

Weather: It was great when its summer. The climate was warm and sunny and I would go out for outdoor activities nearly every weekend. There is an abundance of great hiking and biking trails. Once October hit, the weather did a 180 and became constantly rainy and overcast. It would be like this for weeks on end and apparently stays like this until April. In the winter, the surface temperatures are often below zero, yet it doesn’t snow, and you get what’s called freezing rain. People who say that the occasional rain and gloom doesn’t bother them, really need to understand that this weather is like this nearly 8 months out of the year. If you ever lived in a southwestern state, where nearly every day is sunny and T-shirt weather, this may be a big adjustment; not to mention a costly warm weather wardrobe.

Economy: The economy is lousy. There are only 2 fortune 500 companies in the entire region. It’s Intel and Nike. Both reside outside of Portland proper. Intel is entirely in Hillsboro (almost what I would consider an exurb of Portland), and Nike is moving a lot of its support staff to its Hillsboro offices too. If you live in NE or SE Portland, this can be quite a distance to travel.
Also just because these are huge job centers doesn’t mean that qualified applicants can apply for a job and get in. It’s globally competitive. For instance, much of Intel’s staff were relocated from other recently shut down locations. Many of the other newcomers are expatriates from overseas. Unless you’re an all-star engineer, it’s not going to be easy to get a permanent, well-compensated position. As for Nike, it’s an apparel company mostly focused on design, sales and administration. While it would appear that there are a lot of openings, it’s not as much as you think. Most of these jobs are filled either by internal staff or networked/referrals. External hire fills are really not that abundant. Yes there are exceptions, but not usually for the permanent roles. Both Intel, Nike and other work centers rely on a huge contingent work force (temp workers), and they are constantly being turned over when projects or work dies down.

For folks thinking they can just waltz into town and strike it big at one of these companies may find it surprising difficult. This seems to be the consensus of what I’ve read on Glassdoor. Plus anecdotal evidence suggests that many employers use this leverage (of the poor economy and high labor market), to overwork their staff or pay below market wages, because the employees do not have other options. I thought maybe the public sector would be stronger, but those opportunities never materialized to anything either.

In downtown, there are a few other name brand companies, but they are smaller branch offices. Portland’s downtown really doesn’t have that many corporations. It’s a lot of high rise condos, retail, industrial, and public buildings. Portland’s main economy seems to be heavy rail, ship/air transportation, food services, and goods harvested from the Willamette Valley. Even if you’re in a recession proof profession such as medicine, nursing, law or, software engineering, you’ll likely be able to find work, however be prepared for being offered a lower salary then in other competitive markets.


Traffic: The city’s infrastructure is not meant to handle the current population. While it’s definitely worst during commuting hours, it can be hell to get in and out of the city. What adds to the congestion is that there are limited bridges crossing over the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Since these rivers split the town into 4 quadrants, there is no other alternative routes to cross to get around. A few of the bridges don’t have much lanes/capacity either. This leads to what can be up to an hour in one way commuting or leisure times. An attempt to solve some of these traffic ailments has completed failed. A new bridge was made this year but is off-limits to vehicular traffic. In fact, I tried to walk over it one time, but it was still closed to pedestrians. There is some decent public transit options, but I haven’t lived close enough to a station to take advantage of them. The one to two lane roads in SW and beyond cannot handle the commuting traffic.

People: The people aren’t as tolerant as the media would lead you to believe. There is a noticeable uneasiness of transplants (especially ones from California), and it wasn’t until I got my Oregon plates did the drivers start being more polite. I don’t see a lot of minority owned businesses either. The local news occasionally reports hates crimes as well. While people can be friendlier than other places I’ve lived, it can be difficult to actually convert those conversations into more meaningful relationships. In fact Forbes magazine had an article that Portland was the #1 most unhappy city. (America?s Unhappiest Cities: Portland, Ore. - BusinessWeek).

So basically I’m ready to leave, but it’s not so simple. What do most people do when they discover that it’s not the greener pastures that most people make it out to be? My former co-worker (before I moved to Oregon), returned to Seattle and is doing quite well. Seattle, while still having the typical NW weather; jobs and economy, from all reports, appears to be leaps and bounds better to that of Portland.
As I’m not the only one fed up with the job situation, what do Portlanders do once they find themselves without a job or underemployed? They must do something to facilitate their careers and support their families.
EXCELLENT POST! I'm a transplant from CA with Google and Apple seriously trying to recruit me back to CA, but there are no positions that I can work in PDX...well maybe for $35K a year vs. $200k+ in Silicon Valley. Fortunately I'm self employed, and can operate remotely as I'm in the software industry.


It's the old boys club here...you don't even have to have a college degree to land a job at Nike if you have an inside connection. Also women need to keep in mind, up here they expect women to get a "secretary's salary" no matter how smart you are.


It's a super depressed economy that does not match the COL.


I'm leaving, as I might as well live somewhere a little cheaper with better weather since this place has no future. It's a gorgeous area to live in, if you can take the rain...and if you have a trust fund AND no ambition.

Last edited by gray horse; 12-12-2015 at 09:54 PM..
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Old 12-12-2015, 10:00 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,050 posts, read 30,280,763 times
Reputation: 7845
I fully support anyone wanting to move away.
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Old 12-12-2015, 10:08 PM
 
Location: Portland, OR
8,802 posts, read 7,743,222 times
Reputation: 4501
FYI, Nike doesn't pay well.
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Old 12-12-2015, 10:35 PM
 
3,939 posts, read 3,993,300 times
Reputation: 3049
I have heard many similar stories to the OP's and I hope the OP finds a better location. I can def. see how Portland can be a difficult place to earn a decent salary and buy a home. It's important that potential transplants read stories like these because Portland isn't as"cheap" as everyone in other metros think it is.
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:37 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,050 posts, read 30,280,763 times
Reputation: 7845
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yankeemama View Post
I have heard many similar stories to the OP's and I hope the OP finds a better location. I can def. see how Portland can be a difficult place to earn a decent salary and buy a home. It's important that potential transplants read stories like these because Portland isn't as"cheap" as everyone in other metros think it is.
That is true, if someone is looking for cheap, places like Spokane and Des Moines are much better options.
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Old 12-13-2015, 12:12 AM
 
418 posts, read 548,876 times
Reputation: 586
does anyone really say that Portland's COL is low?
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Old 12-13-2015, 12:24 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,050 posts, read 30,280,763 times
Reputation: 7845
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdxmilw View Post
does anyone really say that Portland's COL is low?
I am not sure, there might be some who think Portland is still at 2004 rental rates.....though I remember living in the NYC metro and knowing plenty of people who thought Brooklyn was still that affordable hidden gem in NYC not realizing that those days were long gone.
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Old 12-13-2015, 02:54 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
23,747 posts, read 30,515,193 times
Reputation: 47419
I'm mystified as to why OP was surprised by any of that. Two minutes of research would have revealed that rent is high, pay is low, jobs are hard to come by, and that it rains a lot.
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