A Look at What’s Up with July 1, 2019June 20, 2019 Wage estimates from third quarter 2018 reveal that 7.9 percent of all jobs in Eastern Oregon (Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa) paid the minimum wage while 43.3 percent of jobs in the region paid less than $15.00 per hour. In comparison, 7.3 percent of jobs statewide paid the minimum wage while 31.2 percent paid less than $15.00 per hour.
Currently set at $10.50, the minimum wage for nonurban counties in Oregon will step up to $11.00 per hour on July 1. Minimum wage is set to increase by $0.50 each July until 2022 when it reaches $12.50. Other parts of the state will see a steeper increase. Urban counties will set the minimum hourly rate at $13.50 in 2022 while the Portland Metro area will reach $14.75. Starting in 2023, minimum wage will be tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Wage Hike Felt Most in Region’s Southern Portion
Individually among the region’s eight counties, Morrow had the smallest share of minimum wage jobs compared with total jobs in the county. Harney had the largest share. Just 3.5 percent of all jobs in Morrow County paid minimum wage while 12.3 percent of jobs in Harney paid the minimum. Malheur County fell just below Harney for share of minimum wage jobs (12.1%); however, Malheur had the largest share (51.7%) of jobs paying less than $15.00 per hour, while Morrow had the smallest share (35.7%).
For the region as a whole, Umatilla County supplied the largest share of minimum wage jobs. With 2,508 jobs, Umatilla accounted for 36.3 percent of all minimum wage jobs in the region. This isn’t surprising given that Umatilla accounted for a hefty portion (43.5%) of the region’s total number of jobs. In terms of proportions however, Umatilla accounted for fewer minimum wage jobs than might be expected. Malheur County on the other hand accounted for more than might be expected. Malheur accounted for 26.2 percent of all minimum wage jobs in the region while supplying just 17.2 percent of the region’s total number of jobs.
Wage Hike Felt Mainly in Three Sectors
Two-thirds of Eastern Oregon jobs that paid minimum wage and more than half of those that paid less than $15.00 per hour were found in three broad sectors (out of 15): natural resources and mining; retail trade; and leisure and hospitality. Seasonal hiring patterns, education levels, and required skillsets heavily influence low-end wages in these sectors. Seasonal spending drives labor demand in leisure and hospitality as well as retail trade. Seasonal harvesting drives Eastern Oregon’s labor demand in natural resources and mining due to the sector’s significant agriculture component. Many seasonal jobs – such as retail salespersons; food and beverage servers; and farmworkers and laborers for crops – call for workers to perform repetitive tasks. Education and skill requirements for these positions are often low, which can lead to a large supply of qualified applicants and low wages.
Thirty-three percent of all jobs that paid minimum wage in Eastern Oregon were in leisure and hospitality. For the region’s leisure and hospitality sector, 26.6 percent of jobs paid minimum wage while 79.7 percent paid less than $15.00 per hour. Statewide, 20.6 percent of leisure and hospitality jobs paid minimum wage while 61.9 percent paid less than $15.00. Food services and drinking places supplied roughly three-fourths of all leisure and hospitality jobs in Eastern Oregon in third quarter 2018. The expectation of tips likely boosts total expected compensation for many positions, at the same time putting downward pressure on employer paid wages.
At 16.1 percent, retail trade accounted for half as many minimum wage jobs in Eastern Oregon when compared with leisure and hospitality. The industry also had a slightly larger share of jobs in higher wage categories. This is likely due to the absence of tips as expected compensation and possibly a greater availability of low and mid-level management jobs that help boost employer paid wages. For the retail trade sector, 11.3 percent of jobs paid minimum wage while 62.5 percent of jobs paid less than $15.00 per hour. Statewide, 12.6 percent of retail trade jobs paid minimum wage while 54.5 percent paid less than $15.00 per hour.
Natural resources and mining accounted for 14.6 percent of Eastern Oregon’s minimum wage jobs in 2018. Nearly 8.0 percent of jobs in the sector paid the minimum while 65.4 percent paid less than $15.00 per hour. Statewide, 6.8 percent of natural resources and mining jobs paid minimum wage while 47.1 percent paid less than $15.00 per hour. Natural resources and mining is the largest of the 15 broad sectors in Eastern Oregon with 85.3 percent of employment in Umatilla, Morrow, and Malheur counties. The bulk of minimum wage jobs in the sector were in two of these counties. Malheur County accounted for 52.0 percent of the sector’s minimum wage jobs while Umatilla County accounted for 30.7 percent.
It’s Coming Up
July 1st is just around the corner. An estimated 7.9 percent of Eastern Oregon jobs should expect to see a pay increase with two-thirds of these jobs in three broad sectors. Retail trade will see the second largest bump, which is nearly matched by natural resources and mining. Leisure and hospitality will see the largest bump (roughly 2,287 jobs); slightly more than retail trade and natural resources and mining combined.
Each year the Oregon Employment Department produces a series of wage tables for Oregon’s 36 counties. These tables detail the number of jobs by wage category for 13 broad private sectors as well as state and local government. Although these county level tables are not published on Qualityinfo.org, they are available upon request. If you would like one on your county, please contact me at Christopher.M.Rich@Oregon.gov.