Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Oregon's Average Wages Rise With Inflation
by David Cooke
Published Mar-8-2013

Are wages in Oregon keeping up with inflation? One way to check is to review data from the Current Employment Statistics monthly business survey. The Current Employment Statistics program compiles estimates of average hourly earnings for all private-sector payroll employees. The latest number from this survey shows that in December, Oregon's private-sector employees averaged $22.57 per hour. The average for all of 2012 was $22.21 per hour. This was an increase of 2.1 percent from the comparable figure in 2011.

Meanwhile, inflation rose by nearly the same percent in 2012. For this analysis, I'm using the latest estimates for the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers as projected by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services. Last year, this measure of inflation rose by 2.3 percent for the greater‑Portland area, and 2.0 percent at the national level.

Looking back over the past four years, annual inflation has been slow and steady, averaging 1.7 percent for Portland and 1.6 percent for the U.S. In comparison, the private-sector average hourly earnings for Oregon rose by 1.5 percent per year. This survey data indicates that since 2008, Oregon wages have risen at almost exactly the same rate as inflation.

Graph 1
Oregon's average hourly earnings for private-sector payroll employees