The Oregon Employment Department just released a very good report Why Oregon Trails the Nation (pdf) which describes the EMRATIO trend for the state in recent years:
“Oregon historically had a higher employment-to-population ratio than the U.S., but has fallen below the national ratio in recent years. Between 1996 and 2009, Oregon’s ratio declined from 65 percent to 58 percent. While the U.S. employment-to-population ratio also declined during this period – from 63 percent to 59 percent –the U.S. now exceeds Oregon’s ratio by 1 percentage point.
A low ratio may be caused by a higher proportion of unemployment in the working age population, a higher proportion of retirees, and by a larger share of the population that chooses not to work, among other reasons. Oregon’s low 2009 employment-to-population ratio can be at least partially attributed to the high number of unemployed residents. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of unemployed Oregonians increased 120 percent – the 12th fastest increase in the nation.”
This means that workers in Oregon carry a greater burden of supporting the population not in the workforce than in other states. The report also indicates that the proportion of workers who live in Washingon but work in Oregon has a meaningful impact on per capita personal income; as the income of these individuals is counted in the total for Washington and not Oregon. However, this income is taxed by Oregon so there is no impact on the support burden for Oregon workers.