Oregon’s Average Wage Continues to Rise in 2017

by Nick Beleiciks

September 7, 2017

Oregon’s labor market returned to full expansion mode in the past few months. Employers added 39,800 jobs in the first seven months of the year while the unemployment rate reached a record low in May before inching up to 3.8 percent in July. Wage increases are expected during times of strong job growth and low unemployment as employers offer higher wages to attract and retain the workers they need. Not surprisingly, wage growth continues to rise and the average hourly wage in Oregon’s private sector increased 2.2 percent over the year after adjusting for inflation.

Oregon’s average hourly wage was largely unchanged from 2011 through 2014. Over-the-year wage gains picked up in 2015 and were helped along by slow consumer price inflation, which was initially caused by the fall in oil and gas prices. Inflation continues to be slow as energy prices stabilize.
Wage gains in the coming months will depend on how stable inflation is and how tight the supply of workers remains. If wages continue to rise at the present rate and low inflation continues, then real wage gains should continue through the year.

The average wage is clearly on the rise, but it’s important to note that the average hourly wage is based on a monthly survey of businesses and reflects the average of all jobs in the private nonfarm sector of the economy. The average wage of $25.54 per hour in July 2017 does not necessarily reflect the average of “typical” jobs or jobs held by “typical” workers. Other data sources put Oregon’s median wage, the hourly wage where half of all workers earn less and half of all workers earn more, at about $18.60 per hour.

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