job market in Portland, OR??????


I've been unemployed since 2009 and have looked anywhere and everywhere to no success.  I was wondering if there is anyone out there who might have an insight as to the job market in portland.



Jul 26, 11 12:52 pm

Left Portland about 6 months ago. Things were looking BAD then. I'm sure things are even worse now. 

Great city though!

Jul 26, 11 1:07 pm

Virtually all of Oregon is totally F***ed. It is currently one of the worsed of states because almost everywhere else has signs of employment. It is still dead.

I have been looking at the market.

EAC9812, what is your status (IDP Intern or licensed architect) ?

I'll be heading into Eugene in September.

Rusty!: Where are you now?


Jul 26, 11 4:28 pm

Even in good times, Portland isn't really known for having a good job market.  (This goes for most industries, as I understand it.)

Now, of course, it's even worse.  However, if you're going to be unemployed, you might as well be unemployed in a nice place.

Jul 26, 11 5:43 pm

(Although, in a tangentally related question, how is the Northwest doing overall in comparison to other regions?  If I don't find much where I am currently, I'm thinking of up and moving there, since I have relatives in the region and things here are pretty much dead.)

As a counterpoint to the somewhat downer comment earlier, if you were to move to Portland, you wouldn't be all that far away from the other places in the Northwest.  It wouldn't be all that hard to move if you found a job elsewhere in the region, but you're also far from other regions where prospects may be better.  (The northeastern part of the country seems to be easier, in this regard.)

Also, one additional positive to the Northwest compared to some other regions: it seems much more amenable to people who want to get involved with their local community than some other regions.  So even if you're not employed, it's not as difficult to go out and commiserate with your fellow (possibly unemployed) architects as it would be in a town with few to no active organizations.

Jul 26, 11 5:53 pm

Yep. It is what it is. I would say that this is largely the case for ALL of Oregon.


Jul 26, 11 6:00 pm

EAC -  

I headed to Portland fresh out of my undergraduate program (Fall 2007) and had a pretty tough go of it.  After talking with pretty much every single firm I could find (never full-on "interviews" because they simply weren't hiring...) I ended up working for a pretty cool adaptive reuse developing firm.  I got some unique exposure to the nitty gritty of actually building buildings - from code research to budgeting to tax incentives for incorporating environmental elements - but lamented my lack of design exposure.  It was edifying, but not architecture.


I had a few friends actually working in firms and in the year or so I was there, they were all either laid off or one of the last few scragglers in drastically downsized firms.   


But Rusty's right - it's a great city.  There's truly an emphasis on sustainability, good modern design, and a sort of DIY craftiness that tends to transcend job titles.  Which works for a lot of people, but it didn't for me.  

Good luck!

Jul 27, 11 2:18 pm

After moving here post-layoff in the midwest in 2009, I can tell you that it is ROUGH getting your foot in the market.  I am noticing a slight upswing in design employment now, but it's almost all re-hires and unadvertised friend-of-friend hires.  I'm pretty underpaid as well.  There's lots of crafty, DIY startups here, but many can't afford a decent hourly wage for new designers/interns, let alone a salary with benefits...  It's probably the right fit for some, but be sure to not have too much debt before taking the jump.

Jul 27, 11 6:29 pm

I think what most people are trying to say is. 'portland is a beautiful city, it's starting to bounce back with several medium and some large firms looking for hire. with the exceptional large amount talent in portland, we do not want more outsiders taking the little job openings that are showing up.' 



Jul 28, 11 1:50 am

noripigu - I would think that's somewhat more adversarial than it really is. it not that we don't want people moving here, it's just letting people know that the market is seriously rough

Jul 28, 11 7:49 pm

Considering that Architects and building designers are even struggleing to pay the bills and already over 50% of employees of architectural firms that existed in 2008 are now unemployed. Probably upwards to 75%. We don't need 20,000 architects bidding on each of the projects there is and 100,000 architects RFP/bid on each of the maybe 10 public projects in the state that would be seen in the state procurement system as the state is cutting back on projects.

It sucks already so why make it suck more.


Jul 28, 11 9:55 pm

everyone in Portland is unemployed but they all can afford $300 leather seats on their fixed gear bicycles...I dont get it

Jul 31, 11 12:28 am

Because they save $1000 / mo. not using their automobile or not owning one such as no insurance, gasoline and other expenditures while they can live close / work close and possibly even use of public transportation such as a $1.50 a day on the bus. You spend more on gasoline per day with the automobile.

So they spend money to make the bicycle ride comfortable and make their bicycle work for them. The $300 isn't squat when you only need to replace it once every few years if you get quality. Auto repair and tune-up costs more than maintaining a bicycle. Also, you don't need to have have some sort of license to ride a bicycle.

It isn't totally unemployed if you consider "Do you want fries with your order" as a source of income. It is what you got and that people will work as they need to and the bicycle and the mono-rail (whatever it is) for expedient long-distance travel.


Jul 31, 11 1:19 am

Thank you all for your comments.

I've been in portland for 5 years, two of those unemployed..... My wife is employed full time, so i guess i just have to sit this one out, moving elsewhere is not an option. 

Aug 1, 11 12:53 pm

I heard opened an office near Portland. They are involved with sustainable education and documentation. Don't know if they have any current openings but a LEED AP friend went to work there and loves it. Might be worth checking out their website and calling.

Aug 1, 11 11:10 pm

Allied Works in Portland currently has job openings listed here on archinect. There are some openings listed on the Portland AIA. Check out for an update on hiring going on lately in Portland. Not as many jobs advertised as in NY, but with the cost of living so much lower here, I don't think it is worse than any other place...

Oct 8, 11 12:41 am

I am so very glad I stumbled upon this website / discussion. I am a designer with 8 years experience of Interior Design / Interior Architecture and will be relocating to Portland from Houston around the New Year with my boyfriend. Luckily he has a job already set up, however I'll be on the hunt. Like in most towns my assumption is Portland is a close knit design community and it's more about who you know, and I know a total of zero folks there. I had planned to visit the AIA offices next week while in town and reach out to the IIDA Chapter. Any other local resources one could recommend vs. just dropping by a firm (I know that can be annoying) or sending anonymous emails to those generic '' greatly appreciated. 

Oct 29, 11 2:53 pm

bump. How's it going in Portland now?

May 23, 12 12:21 pm

A friend of mine moved to Portland over a year ago, still no full time job. Has done some interesting contract work with a handful of folks. 

However, in the last two weeks, his phone has started ringing, so maybe things are turning around. 

May 24, 12 4:02 am

I know that the PDX market is booming right now, as it Seattle. PacNW is where its at, bitches!

May 24, 12 8:20 pm

Seattle is booming? Shit, I should have held out for a better job. 

May 25, 12 11:26 am

"I know that the PDX market is booming right now"

The trick is to lower your expectations so much that you go "Wow! I'm still alive. Best day ever!"

Meanwhile in the objective world, architectural billing index for PacNW keeps goin' down down.

May 25, 12 12:58 pm

Reviving this bad boy to see what ppl are saying / thinking now. I look at it as, you wake up like it's Ground Hog day and just keep looking. At some point you figure out if you should start looking elsewhere.  Not there yet.

Mar 14, 13 3:13 am
Certainly some work to be had in PDX. Lots of new builds going up and developers scheming for the next project.
Mar 15, 13 1:20 am

One would think so, if you know of anything let me know because the view from the trenches right now, is not quite that colorful.

Mar 18, 13 6:09 am

I am still unemployed here in portland since I started this thread, (total of 3.5 years now).  I do see more and more construction through out the city, mainly housing (apartments, condos).  My friends who are employed tell me that more construction permits are being filled with the city which means more building to come this summer.  With all this new work in town, I don't see alot of new job posts.  Maybe they are just working their current staff to keep up with the new work.  My guess is that they are too timid to add additional staff.

Mar 22, 13 5:51 pm

i can never understand how someone can be unemployed for almost 4 years...

and still assumes that there is a project with the market.. or accuses companies of being timid.. i think you need to look at yourself and your resume.. and your portfolio, and talk to some people about it... IT MUST BE YOU... thats the problem....

it just seems unreal... the last four graduating classes from my architecture school i would say about 60% have architecture jobs 20% went back to grad school 10% knew they didnt wanna work in architecture upon graduating .. and found employment else where and 10% are privileged and just hanging out.. and traveling and what not...    PS.. these jobs that my colleagues have are all over the nation [US] and not just in one city

i have not been unemployed for more than 2 months...

what is going on.. with people....

i want to say that .. those unemployed for 4+ years are not good at what they do.. OR are not working hard enough... BUT then again.. maybe there is  something going on i dont know about

I plan to move to Portland in a year or so .. and have already made a list of Portland Firms.. (100+).. and have begun contacting firms.. and researching what projects they have coming to them... and what help they might need.. and basically just putting my name in their ear.. and networking even though im super far away.... .. and people seem to respect that.. and really be willing to engage with me....

either way.. im not judging anyone... i dont just understand it... so if im missing something let me know.....

Mar 23, 13 12:46 am

@Ms.Winston, we are following some of the same threads, I moved from New York back to Portland. Yes, some will say crazy move but I was aiming for grad school and needed to establish residency. The Portland market is hella slow. New York's market is the polar opposite but the one thing I have noticed is how a lot of offices are more comfortable with hiring via recruiters.

Had I stayed east, I would almost definitely be working right now, chasing after a mixed bag of carrots and feeling that with enough hard work, I will switch from contract to permanent. I am glad that you are doing your homework from afar. That extra hustle is what distinguishes those finding chances for meet and greets, vs those who keep emailing resumes.

What I am seeing now in Portland is that firms are working their current staffs more, so even if there is more construction, firms will proceed cautiously until a noticeable upsurge happens. Others are looking carefully, looking for ppl who have experience in finding new clients. Those looking are chasing after as many labels as possible since not everyone is Revit experienced, LEED certified or licensed.

You are totally right, we all constantly need to honestly have those moments of reflection. In the current market, failure to do that (working or not) is asking for trouble.

Mar 24, 13 12:51 am

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