Recent Employment Change by Wage Groups in Northwest Oregon

by Erik Knoder

May 31, 2017

As Oregon and Northwest Oregon approach full employment, people often wonder about the quality of jobs that are being added. Are they all low-wage, low-skill, dead-end McJobs? In Northwest Oregon the answer is, certainly not. Most counties in Northwest Oregon expanded their middle-wage employment more than low-wage employment recently, and high-wage employment increased as well.

A comparison of job estimates by wage group from the first quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2016 shows that only Clatsop County added more jobs in the low-wage category than to the middle-wage group.
Benton County added the most jobs to the middle-wage group, not surprising as it has the largest economy in the region. More surprising was that Lincoln County added nearly as many jobs to the middle-wage group as Benton County did. Clatsop County added the third-largest number of jobs to the middle-wage group, but it added even more jobs to its low-wage group.

Alert readers will note that the analysis doesn’t show that these are all new jobs that paid low, medium, or high wages; it shows only that the numbers of jobs in these categories have changed over time. An individual working at a job paying $14.99 per hour in 2014 may have received a pay raise to $15.25 per hour in 2016, which would result in one less job in the low-wage category and one more job in the middle-wage category. The change in employment by wage group was affected by inflation, job tenure, increases in Oregon’s minimum wage, and productivity, as well as new job creation.

For this article, low-wage jobs are those that paid $7.25 to $14.99 per hour, middle-wage jobs paid $15.00 to $29.99 per hour, and high-wage jobs paid $30.00 per hour or more.

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