Oregon Jobs in 2021: A Wage Data Perspective

by Molly Hendrickson

December 21, 2022

In 2021, Oregon’s industries provided 3,095,400 jobs, a gain of 95,800 (3.2%) over the prior year. All but four broad industries added jobs in 2021. Professional and business services (+30,400), leisure and hospitality (+26,200), and retail trade (+19,500) saw the largest absolute job gains. At the other end of the spectrum, other services (-11,800); natural resources and mining (-5,400); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-2,600); and state government (-500) lost jobs. Other services posted the largest year-over-year percent decrease, at 10.9%.
Graph showing Oregon: Percent of all jobs by broad industry, 2021

Recovery from the pandemic recession in spring 2020 has occurred quickly compared with previous recessionary periods, such as the Great Recession, when 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 8.0% of its jobs from 2019 to 2020 and gained 7.3% from 2020 to 2021, resulting in a net loss of 1.3% over the two years.

Leisure and hospitality was hard-hit by the pandemic recession – a loss of over 78,000 jobs occurred in 2020, or 17.9%. This percentage drop was similar to the percentage of jobs lost during the Great Recession for leisure and hospitality. The industry had grown significantly, however, since the Great Recession. Further, leisure and hospitality had the second largest number of job gains in 2021; over 26,000 jobs were added, a growth rate of 7.3%. With a moderate recovery from the pandemic recession, it will be interesting to see how the industry continues to grow. Notably, construction lost more than 61,000 (31.8%) of its jobs during the Great Recession but barely more than 4,000 (2.1%) in 2020. In 2021, construction gained about 1,400 jobs (0.8%).

The median hourly wage of all jobs rose from $19.97 to $21.39 in 2021 – a year-over-year increase of 7.1%, likely enhanced by the disproportionate loss of and failure to regain lower-wage jobs during the pandemic, as well as increases in the minimum wage. All but three broad industries saw their median hourly wages increase significantly, by at least 4.8%. The outliers were private educational services (3.0%), manufacturing (3.8%), and financial activities (4.5%). Transportation, warehousing, and utilities recorded the largest over-the-year median wage increase, at 14.6%. The median hourly wages of four other private-sector industries – non-classifiable, other services, information, and professional and business services – rose by more than 11.0%.

Thirty-one percent of all 2021 jobs paid at least $30 per hour. Over 55% (1,707,200 jobs) paid at least $20 per hour – almost triple the percentage (18.7%) that paid less than $15 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 per hour began to decrease from year to year. In 2020, that number dropped substantially – more than 260,000 fewer jobs paid less than $15 an hour. In 2021, it followed a similar trend, but didn’t drop quite as much; the number of jobs that paid less than $15 per hour dropped by 200,000.

All of the other hourly wage categories posted gains in 2021. The $60 or more (+20.4%) and $20 to $29.99 (+15.2%) wage categories saw the largest year-over-year percent increases in number of jobs. The three remaining hourly wage categories all saw a minimum of 8.5% increases in numbers of jobs. This is evidence of the strong labor market and pandemic recession recovery in 2021.

Table showing Oregon: year-over-year job losses/gains by hourly wage class, 2021

To see detailed annual tables, visit www.QualityInfo.org, go to the Data page, and click “Oregonians @ Work” to find Annual Wage Tables.

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