2022 Oregon Wage Information

by Jason Payton

August 1, 2022

Understanding how your take home pay compares with others in your field, or someone in a different career, is vitally important. It can inform you about how your work is being valued, and whether you may want to pursue more lucrative career options in the future. Likewise, hiring employers benefit from knowing the range of wages paid to workers in positions similar to those they are looking to hire, in their area of the state. Thanks to survey responses from employers around the state, the Oregon Employment Department publishes wage estimates for over 750 occupations, as well as hundreds of occupations in every region of the state. The 2022 version of Occupational Wage Information is now available.

The annual average wage for all occupations in Oregon was $61,465 in 2022, or $29.55 per hour. Of the occupations with published data, gambling dealers had the lowest average wage of $14.29 per hour. General internal medicine physicians had the highest average wage ($138.86 per hour). Medical specialists like general internal medicine physicians have such a high average wage because it take many years of education and experience in order to perform that level of work.

The cost of living, mix of industries, and available workforce can be different across the state. We may see a higher number of software engineers and folks working in corporate headquarters in Portland, while natural resource jobs may be more concentrated in rural communities, and leisure and hospitality jobs focused near the coast. Wage estimates reflect these differences. The average hourly wage for Multnomah and Washington counties (the Portland-Metro region) was $33.25, and Clackamas County came in at $30.15 in 2022. Jobs in Eastern Oregon ($24.34) and Southwestern Oregon ($24.26) had lower average wages than jobs around the Portland tri-county area.

Wage estimates are not immune from the influences of the pandemic. We have seen shifts in employment levels and wages in different parts of the state. As we started to release wage data over the pandemic we began to see the average wage for Northwest Oregon ($27.16) was greater than the Mid-Valley ($27.00), something we had not seen since 2016. While variations from one year to another can usually be stocked up to adjustments for inflation and changes in the composition of businesses sampled in the survey, national data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the states that experienced a higher relative decline in leisure and hospitality employment saw higher than expected changes in average wage.

Prior to the pandemic, Northwest Oregon had a higher share of workers employed in leisure and hospitality than the Mid-Valley area. Leisure and hospitality jobs in many cases pay a lower than average wage. If the shutdowns from the pandemic adversely affected jobs on the lower end of the pay scale, then the average wage for the jobs that remain in the area will increase because those lower-paying jobs are not counted. That may be what we are seeing in Northwest Oregon, and generally across the country. We will have to watch wage estimates for the next couple of years to see if average wages in Mid-Valley move ahead of Northwest Oregon as leisure and hospitality employment recovers.

Looking at average wages is like trying to diagnose a patient by only taking their temperature. You can get a sense that something is off, but you may not be able to fully understand the many reasons why. We need to scan the wage ranges of different occupations to better assess how pay for one career aligns with another. Wage ranges give us a better idea of what we could expect if we were to hire, or work in a particular occupation.

We provide wage ranges by publishing a series of percentiles for each occupation. A percentile wage shows the percentage of workers in an occupation that earn less than a given wage and the percentage that earn more. In most cases, wages in the 10th or 25th percentile likely reflect workers just entering a career, or who have less education attainment than others performing similar work. To better our understanding of wage ranges let’s look at the wages for some nursing occupations in Oregon.

Many front line health care providers begin their career working as a nursing assistant, home health aide, or some other personal care provider. Workers interested in becoming a registered nurse usually need to have previous related experience, and these entry-level positions are a great way to do that. Registered nurses work in a number of settings, and many nurses have either an associate degree or bachelor degree as well as retaining the necessary licensing. Most registered nursing jobs in Oregon pay between $37.95 and $63.60 per hour. We can see that those who continue on their career path and move into other jobs, such as nurse practitioners, may also see significant wage increases. About half of all nurse practitioners in Oregon earn more than 90% of all registered nurses.

Wages can also be different based on the setting health care providers work in. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses working in a hospital setting typically earn wages more than 20% higher than their counterparts working in nursing and residential care settings. A higher minimum education requirement, as well as challenging work conditions may be some of the reasons we see higher wages for hospital nurses.

Occupational wage information allows us to better understand what people get paid for the work they do, and how that may differ across the state. To get additional wage estimates for hundreds of careers please visit QualityInfo.org.


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