Oregon's tech and software industries play large role in lowering unemployment rate
EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon's unemployment numbers are the lowest they've been in nearly a decade. Experts credit the tech and software industries for dropping the unemployment rate to 5.1 percent in January.
Construction and manufacturing jobs also played a large role. But in all, the state department says Oregon's payroll report surged by nearly 10,000 jobs in January. Eugene's economy provided a large amount of those jobs.
"Tech plus craft" - that's how experts describe a thriving ground for thinkers and creators, not only in Eugene, but around Oregon.
"When I first started, there wasn't a lot out there. There just wasn't very much tech here. It was all manufacturing," said Ken Williams from Feynman Group Inc.
The scene has changed significantly since Williams graduated from the University of Oregon in 1998.
In January alone, software and tech firms added more than 2,000 positions collectively across the state.
"We've started to hire more. And the reason being is the amount of work that's come in," Williams said.
The tech industry ranges from developing cell phone apps to the video game industry.
"The largest video game studio in the state of Oregon, who's here on Broadway Street, believes in Eugene, believes in the revitalization efforts," said Matt Sayre from the Technology Association of Oregon.
Pipeworks Studio is already expanding with the possibility of a fiber optic network coming downtown as soon as this summer.
"That will be huge. That's the single biggest thing that the city can do to go and put fuel on the fire of technology boom in Eugene," said Lindsay Gupton, Pipeworks Studio president.
Portland is already looking to provide the fiber optic network to its businesses with the help of Google, if the company gets enough tax breaks.
"It's a really dramatic leap in the capacity that our internet will have downtown," said David Youngentob from Fertilab Thinkubator in Eugene.
With the continuous improvements, tech-savvy entrepreneurs could have a permanent place to call home.
"Making Eugene where tech companies can not only get started but stay, grow, and remain headquartered for their entire life cycle," Youngentob said.
Oregon ranks as the 21st best place in the nation for tech industry employment, according to the trade group CompTIA. They looked at things like salary, gender ratios and tech patents.