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English literacy by Job type

July 18, 2018

By Oregon Employment Department,

In Oregon, about 124,000 workers speak English less than “very well” according to the American Community Survey responses collected from 2012 to 2016. This represents 7 percent of all Oregon workers. This group includes workers who don’t speak English, speak English “not well,” and speak English “well.” About 167,000 workers (9%) speak another language and speak English “very well,” while about 1.5 million workers (84%) speak only English.

The share of workers by ability to speak English varies a lot by occupation and industry. Workers that speak English less than “very well” tend to be in occupations with lower education requirements. Almost half of Oregon’s workers (14,834) in the farming, fishing, and forestry occupational group speak English less than “very well.” This occupational group includes agricultural workers; fishing and hunting workers; and forest, conservation, and logging workers. Other occupations with high concentrations of workers that speak English less than “very well” are in:

– building, grounds cleaning and maintenance (24%, 16,131), which includes landscapers, janitors and maids;
– production (16%, 17,975), which includes butchers, bakers, assemblers, and welders among others; and
– food preparation and serving (14%, 15,952), such as waitstaff, cooks, bartenders, and dishwashers.

Workers with a high level of proficiency in English are more likely to choose occupations they would like to be in. They are also more likely to be selected by employers for jobs that require more intensive use of English.

In Oregon, workers that speak another language and speak English “very well” are concentrated in occupations that have high and low education requirements. Occupations in architecture and engineering; computer and math; healthcare support; and life, physical, and social science have high concentrations of workers that speak a foreign language and speak English “very well.”

To learn more, read “Ability of Oregon Workers to Speak English Varies by Type of Job“.
Posted by Felicia Bechtoldt

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