(Still) Not a Low-Wage Recovery in the Portland Metro Area

(Still) Not a Low-Wage Recovery in the Portland Metro Area

by Amy Vander Vliet

March 21, 2016

Starting way back in 2010 when the nation and the metro area were in the fledgling stages of a recovery following the Great Recession, many speculated that new job growth was largely in low-paying industries such as retail and restaurants, in companies such as Wal-Mart and McDonald's. The term ‘McRecovery' began popping up in media outlets such as The Washington Post and Slate.

That wasn't the case in the Portland metro area. While it's true that the region added many lower-paying jobs during the first few years of the recovery, half of all new jobs were created in industries paying more than $50,000 annually. For every three new lower-paying jobs (less than $30,000), there were five new higher-paying jobs (more than $50,000).

The metro area made a complete recovery in late 2014, recovering all the jobs lost during the recession. Since then, it's added over 60,000 more jobs. And the story of this expansion is much the same as the recovery: job growth has occurred across all wage ranges, with higher-paying industries outpacing lower-paying ones. One notable difference is that higher-paying jobs account for slightly less of new jobs (40% in 2013-2015, compared with 46% in 2010-2013), while the middle range ($30,000-$50,000) account for slightly more.