2011 Census & Survey: Data reveals downtown job growth and salary distribution

Business owners and retailers feel downtown is very clean and safe

Nov 12, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Clean & Safe District’s 2011 Business Census and Survey results, which were released today, show a positive upward trend in downtown Portland’s employment numbers as well as a new statistic revealing the amount of wages and income generated by downtown employees. According to the census, 87,588 downtown employees earned more than $5.5 billion in wages in 2011. Results from the annual Downtown Business Census & Survey also show that for the eleventh year in a row, a large majority of downtown business owners feel that downtown is clean and safe.


"We are pleased to see another year-over-year increase in downtown employment numbers as we continue to climb out of recession,” said vice president at Norris & Stevens, and chair of the Downtown Clean & Safe District. "The public and private investments in downtown over the years have made it a convenient as well as clean and safe place to do business.”


The Downtown Clean & Safe District, funded by downtown property owners and managers in the 213-block district, conducts the Business Census & Survey each year, surveying employers within the I-405/I-5 loop. The Clean & Safe District partners with the Portland Development Commission on the employment data piece.


The rest of the survey data was collected using mailed questionnaires, personal follow-up and block-by-block canvassing to obtain a statistically significant survey sample of 20 percent.


Other report findings include:

  • An upward trend in employment within construction and service industries
  • A seven percent increase in respondents’ positive impression of downtown’s cleanliness;
  • Continuing strong positive sentiment about safety with 95 percent of downtown workers believing that downtown is safe;
  • The impact of panhandlers and public inebriates continues to be the top factor that needs improvement; and
  • The biggest jump in worker sentiment involved the holiday lighting program with 67 percent feeling that it is a much valued amenity, an increase of 29 percentage points from 2009.


In terms of how employees are getting to work downtown, the census shows a slight 4-percentage point up-tick in single car drivers, a decrease in public transportation of about 5 percentage points and other modes of commuting holding steady (bike, carpool, walk).


The survey data is gathered from October 2010 to October 2011. For more information and to view the entire Downtown Business Census & Survey results, click here.

Downtown Clean & Safe District

Downtown’s Clean & Safe District was created more than 20 years ago to support additional cleaning and security in the central city. The district, funded by downtown property owners, includes 213 blocks in the central city, and also supports market research and retail recruitment and retention efforts. The district is managed by the Portland Business Alliance under the direction of the district’s board of directors. Learn more at