Fourth Quarter 2022: Oregonians at Work – Inflation Continues to Affect Wage Growth, While Number of Jobs Grows

by Molly Hendrickson

November 29, 2023

Oregon had 2.01 million people working in jobs covered by the state’s unemployment insurance system during the fourth quarter of 2022. This was an increase of 17,500, or 0.9%, from the same quarter of the previous year. They earned a total of $32.6 billion, with an average wage of about $16,200 per worker for the quarter. The median hourly wage during the quarter was $26.09.

Inflation Affected Wage Growth in Many Industries Over the Year

Oregon employers reported almost 2.2 million jobs during the fourth quarter of 2022. The vast majority of Oregonians (89.1%) held one job during the quarter. Approximately 9.5% of workers in the fourth quarter of 2022 held two jobs, 1.2% of workers held three jobs, and 0.3% of workers held four or more jobs. This looks similar to a year ago in the fourth quarter of 2021.

While not particularly remarkable, it is relevant to note that the share of workers holding either one job, two jobs, three jobs, or four or more jobs has remained quite stable over the years in the fourth quarter. Since at least 2015, the share of workers with one job has been just under 90%. The share of workers with two jobs has been about 10%, those holding three or more jobs at about 1%, and those with four or more jobs at less than 1%. The data suggests that the composition of number of jobs that workers hold has remained quite stable, even with increases in the number of jobs reported.

Meanwhile, the median wage decreased by $0.50 over the year, after being adjusted for inflation according to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). Strong inflation over the past few years has translated to fewer industry wages keeping up in their real purchasing power. Six industries had real wage gains, meaning that the median wage increased more than inflation: information, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, other services, natural resources and mining, and construction. Information had the biggest real gain in median wage percentage growth from fourth quarter 2021 to fourth quarter 2022 (1.6%). However, many industries had decreases in real median wage. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities jobs had the biggest decrease in real percentage change (-7.5%), while state government had the largest real dollar value decrease (-$2.89).

Table showing real change in median hourly wage by broad industry, fourth quarter 2021 to fourth quarter 2022

Shifts in Industry Wages

The number of jobs paying less than $15 per hour decreased by 96,300 between fourth quarter 2021 and fourth quarter 2022. Jobs paying $15.00-$29.99 per hour increased by 47,400, and jobs paying $30.00-$49.99 increased by 27,100. Jobs paying at least $50 per hour increased by 36,000.

The number of jobs paying less than $15 per hour decreased by 38% from fourth quarter 2021 to fourth quarter 2022. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities, and other services had the largest absolute losses in jobs paying under $15 per hour from fourth quarter 2021 to fourth quarter 2022, losing over 20,000 jobs each in the under $15 per hour wage category. Private education services also had job losses of more than 10,000 in this wage category.

The number of jobs paying $15-$29.99 increased by 4%. Leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and health care and social assistance had the largest gains in number of jobs in this wage category. Construction had the largest number of job losses in this wage category.

The number of jobs paying $30-$49.99 per hour increased by 6% over the year. Leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing had the largest job gains in this wage category, while health care and social assistance had the largest number of job losses.

Finally, the number of jobs paying at least $50 per hour increased by 10%. Professional and business services, and local government had the largest absolute gains. Health care and social assistance had job losses in this wage category.
Graph showing Oregon change in jobs by hourly wage category, fourth quarter 2021 to fourth quarter 2022

Most Industries are Adding Jobs

Of the 14,200 jobs gained between fourth quarter 2021 and fourth quarter 2022, leisure and hospitality experienced the largest growth in both numerical change (11,900) and percentage change (5.1%). The largest decrease in both numerical change and percentage change occurred in retail trade (-5,600; -2.2%).

Instead of looking at the raw numerical change, it can sometimes be more helpful to look at the percentage change in jobs. Some industries are larger than others by nature, and large increases or decreases, though they account for many jobs, are a small percentage when compared with the size of the industry. For example, manufacturing gained more than 3,000 jobs between fourth quarter 2021 and fourth quarter 2022. However, this only constituted a 1.7% increase. For comparison’s sake, natural resources and mining decreased by 1.7%, which was a loss of about 1,200 jobs.

It is also interesting to look at the composition of industries in the economy. As different industries experience fluctuations, the number of jobs can increase or decrease enough that the share of jobs for a particular industry increases or decreases within the economy. Generally speaking, adding jobs can lead to a larger share in the economy, while losing jobs can decrease an industry’s share of jobs – though there are exceptions. From the fourth quarter of 2021 to the fourth quarter of 2022, the share of jobs in leisure and hospitality increased from making up 10.7% of all jobs to 11.2%. Professional and business services, manufacturing, local government, other services, construction, wholesale trade, and state government also increased in their share of all jobs. Private educational services added 640 jobs from fourth quarter 2021 to fourth quarter 2022, and did not change in its share of all jobs.

Note that non-classifiable jobs were excluded from much of this analysis. The individuals under non-classifiable work for employers who have not yet been assigned an industry code, so it really isn’t a “sector.” Those employees will start to show up under other industries in future quarters as we are able to determine the correct code. The wage change over time for this group is meaningless, because the employers – and their employees – included here change each quarter.

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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