First Quarter 2019: Number of Jobs Continues to Increase Slowly

by Erik Knoder

December 2, 2019

Oregon’s employers reported a total of 2,100,381 jobs during the first three months of 2019. Although this continued an upward trend in employment that began in 2010, it represents an increase of only 1.3 percent over the previous year. The median (middle) wage of all non-federal jobs was $20.70 per hour. State government jobs had the highest median wage at $35.65 per hour. The information industry (including software publishing) had the second-highest median wage at $34.98 per hour. Leisure and hospitality, as usual, had the lowest median wage of all industries at $13.96 per hour. Manufacturing had a median wage of $24.20 per hour.

Although manufacturing businesses have long been admired and desired by communities as a way to provide well-paying jobs, a detailed look into wage data shows that manufacturing wages actually vary quite a bit depending on the type of manufacturing. Computer and electronic manufacturing paid the highest median wage ($57.08/hour) of any manufacturing industry in the first quarter of 2019. Unfortunately, it is the exception for manufacturing wages. The second-highest wage ($32.84/hour) paid by petroleum and coal products manufacturers was quite a bit lower. The lowest-paying manufacturing industries have median wages only a little higher than wages in leisure and hospitality and retail trade.

In total, only 11 manufacturing industries paid hourly wages that were more than the median wage for all industries in Oregon in the first quarter of 2019, and 10 manufacturing industries paid less than the median for all industries. Fortunately, the higher-paying group of manufacturers employs two-thirds of all manufacturing workers.

Job seekers and economic developers are justified in seeking out manufacturing businesses, but a closer examination shows that not all manufacturers provide the high-paying jobs they may desire.
To provide better data, this analysis also filters out job records that probably contain errors. Jobs that report zero hours or more than 999 hours (about 77 hours per week) worked in a quarter and jobs that paid less than the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) are excluded. Jobs that paid more than $500 per hour and reported less than 10 hours work during the quarter are also excluded.

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