Survey reveals large uptick in downtown Portland employment

Downtown Portland employment and business growth has continued to rise, but business owners and retailers remain concerned about cleanliness and safety.

Dec 2, 2015

For more information: 
Liza Dossick, 503.552.6772 | 

PORTLAND, Ore. – Newly released data from Downtown Clean & Safe showed that, while employment and business growth in downtown Portland has continued to rise, the number of downtown business owners and retailers have felt more and more that the city’s urban core is moving backwards in terms of safety and cleanliness.
According to the new Downtown Portland Business Census and Survey, employment in the downtown area grew by 5 percent between 2013 and 2014, from 91,489 to 96,605, and the amount of businesses increased by 6 percent, from 4,404 to 4,693 during the same year.  
“The ongoing growth in employment and businesses downtown has been great news for the region. We are especially encouraged to see growth concentrated in traded-sector industries like technology and finance, since traded-sector jobs are known to pay a family wage,” said Mark Schlesinger, Clean & Safe board chair and partner and senior property manager at Schlesinger Companies. “Yet it’s troubling to see that while post-recession activity picked up, so did the impact of an increase in unsheltered individuals and people engaging in illegal behaviors, like open drug use, in public spaces. We continue to work with our downtown nonprofit partners to promote safer, more humane and long-term solutions to homelessness, such as our recent Real Change not Spare Change campaign. We look forward to working with city leaders on comprehensive solutions to livability issues to ensure that downtown is friendly to both visitors and businesses.”
Key report findings include: 
  • More than a 5 percent increase in employment within the management of companies, such as corporate and head offices, finance and insurance and technology sectors, bringing the total number of employees up to 96,605;
  • A 6 percent increase in downtown businesses, with particularly strong growth in the management of companies, finance and insurance and technology sectors, bringing the total number of businesses up to 4,693;
  • A 7 percent decrease in the amount of people who feel downtown is clean;
  • A downward trend in the amount of people who feel downtown is safe; and
  • A total of 89 percent of respondents reporting that their business is healthy.
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 employment data provided by the State of Oregon. Other survey data was collected using mailed questionnaires, personal follow-up and block-by-block canvassing to obtain a statistically significant survey sample. 
The survey data is gathered from October 2013 to October 2014.   
View the Downtown Business Census & Survey results.

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