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Working in Portland?

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Portland at a Glance

Working in Portland

There are two Fortune 500 companies and many other options for expats looking to work in Portland. Technology, footwear, creative, and manufacturing organizations all call Portland their home, plus there is a thriving shipping industry, as well as tourism.

Local Economy

Portland’s location and infrastructure make it an attractive place for industry. With international air terminals, marine shipping facilities, intercontinental railway systems and both north – south and east – west interstate highways, the city is a highly accessible place.

The city’s industrial history is one of steel. In the 1950s, the steel industry in Portland was the number one employer, and several large steel companies still thrive in the area, including Oregon Steel Mills and Schnitzer Steel Industries. Another large industry for Portland is wheat, with the city being the largest shipper of wheat in the United States. Between steel and wheat, the marine terminals handle over 13 million tons of cargo a year.

Outside of traditional industry, many Portlanders are employed by the numerous large corporations who have made Portland their home over the years. Adidas, Nike, Merrel, Daimler Trucks, Keen, and Airbnb all have their global or North American headquarters in the city.

Portland is reasonably well known for housing a number of animation studios including Laika, which created the movies Coraline and ParaNorman. Continuing within the creative vein, Wieden+Kennedy, the famous advertising agency, also have a home in Portland, perhaps attracted by the unofficial slogan of the city; “Keep Portland weird”.

The largest employer in the Portland area is Intel, the computer components manufacturer, which employs over 15,000 people across several campuses. There is a trend toward technology companies and startups, earning Portland the nickname of Silicon Forest, a play on the tech mecca known as Silicon Valley in California.

Job Hunting

There are a growing number of online facilities expats can use to find work in Portland. Websites like Jobsdango pride themselves on finding ‘northwest jobs for northwest people’ and Mac’s List provides a weekly newsletter that details jobs in Portland and Oregon. Understandably, there are also resources for those looking for specific roles in IT or the creative industries, such as Portland Tech, or Mathys+Potestio which places creative workers in contract or permanent roles.

There are also countless employment agencies within the metro area, so it’s a good idea for expatriates to visit and get acquainted. A great way to find work in Portland is to get networking. There are networking groups for entrepreneurs, startups, investors, creative people, and even those looking for green employment.

Income Taxation

The state government is funded by state income tax, with the local government and schools largely funded by property taxes. Unusually, Oregon is one of only five states in the whole of the U.S. that doesn’t levy a sales tax. While this keeps costs down for residents, it means that the state income tax is one of the highest in the nation; in the top 10%.

For the tax year 2014, for instance, the following four income tax brackets applied for Oregon:

For married couples, different tax brackets apply. Expats working in Portland should take a look at the Oregon Department of Revenue’s FAQ section on ‘Moving to Oregon’, which details many tax and finance related enquiries which are helpful to new residents. Furthermore, please not that an additional, federal income tax also applies and that, depending on your individual circumstances, you might not necessarily be regarded as a fiscal residence, meaning different rates may apply to you.

InterNations Expat Magazine