Oregon Jobs in 2020: A Wage Data Perspective

by Barbara Peniston

July 9, 2021

In 2020, Oregon’s industries provided 2,999,562 jobs, a loss of 180,029 (-5.7%) over the prior year. All but two broad industries experienced decreases in numbers of jobs. Leisure and hospitality (-78,146 jobs), professional and business services (-36,287 jobs), and local government (-21,535 jobs) saw the largest absolute losses. Leisure and hospitality also posted the largest year-over-year percent decrease, at 17.9%. At the other end of the spectrum, transportation, warehousing, and utilities, boosted by increases in online shopping and home delivery, added 16,100 jobs (+14.7%). State government increased very modestly, by 0.7%.
The recent pandemic (beginning in early 2020) had an impact on the labor market that was somewhat dissimilar to that seen during the recent Great Recession. During the latter, between 2006 and 2009, more than 450,000 jobs were lost. Professional and business services, which includes temporary help services, lost the most jobs – roughly 100,000 – and shrank by 25.8% during the recession, whereas that same industry lost only 8% of its jobs over the past year. Interestingly, leisure and hospitality dropped about the same percentage of jobs during the Great Recession – about 17% – as it did in 2020. The industry had grown significantly, however, since the Great Recession. The 17% loss during the Great Recession was equivalent to a decrease of 58,655 jobs, 25% fewer than were lost in 2020. Notably, construction lost 61,123 (31.8%) of its jobs during the Great Recession but barely more than 4,000 (2.1%) over the past year.

The median hourly wage of all jobs rose from $18.51 to $19.97 in 2020 – a year-over-year increase of 7.9%, no doubt enhanced by the disproportionate loss of lower wage jobs during the pandemic, as well as increases in the minimum wage. All but one broad industry saw their median hourly wages increase significantly, by at least 4.2% (3%, after adjusting for inflation). The outlier was transportation, warehousing, and utilities, which saw its median hourly wage increase by only 2.4%. Information recorded the largest over-the-year median wage increase, at 12.8%. The median hourly wages of three other private-sector industries – retail trade, financial activities, and professional and business services – rose by more than 8.0%.  

Twenty-eight percent of all 2020 jobs paid at least $30.00 per hour. Nearly 50% (1,496,073 jobs) paid at least $20.00 per hour – almost double the percentage (26.2%) that paid less than $15.00 per hour. All but the lowest hourly wage class posted job gains. With the annual increases in the minimum wage that began in July of 2016, the number and percentage of jobs paying less than $15.00 per hour began to decrease from year to year. In 2019, that number dropped by nearly 120,000, but 2020 saw a much more substantial decrease. More than 260,000 fewer jobs paid less than $15.00 an hour in 2020 than in 2019, likely further evidence of the differential impact that the pandemic has had on lower-wage jobs. All of the other hourly wage categories posted gains in 2020. The $50.00 to $59.99 (+5.8%) and the $60.00 or more (+7.6%) categories saw the largest year-over-year percent increases in number of jobs. The three remaining hourly wage categories all saw a minimum of 3% increases in numbers of jobs.
To see detailed annual tables, visit www.QualityInfo.org and go to the Wages and Income link to find Quarterly Wage Tables.


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