Second Quarter 2017: Wage Gains Reflect Tighter Labor Market and Higher Minimum Wage

by Erik Knoder

January 10, 2018

Oregon had fewer low-wage workers in mid-2017 as pay increases pushed employees into higher wage brackets. The total number of jobs during the second quarter of 2017 increased by 61,045 compared with the second quarter of 2016, but fewer jobs paid lower wages and more paid higher wages.

Oregon had 254,507 jobs during the second quarter of 2017 that paid $10.75 or less (within one dollar of the state’s standard minimum wage, which was $9.75 per hour at that time). This was 17,152 fewer jobs than during the second quarter of 2016 – noted at the bottom of the table. The count of jobs in 2016 was for all jobs paying less than $10.25 per hour because the state’s minimum wage was $9.25 per hour at that time. During the second quarter of 2016 about 13 percent of all jobs paid within one dollar per hour of minimum wage; one year later only 12 percent of jobs paid within one dollar of minimum wage. Job counts exclude federal government jobs.
At the same time, the number of jobs paying $10.76 per hour or more increased by 78,197. The share of these higher-paying jobs increased to 88 percent of all jobs in the second quarter of 2017 from 87 percent in the second quarter of 2016. Most industries added jobs that paid more; only the information industry, private educational services, and natural resources and mining provided fewer jobs paying $10.76 per hour or more. The drop in higher-paying jobs in natural resources and mining was part of a broader downturn in employment across several segments of that industry in 2017.

The leisure and hospitality industry and retail trade still have large shares of their jobs paying close to minimum wage. Thirty-five percent of leisure and hospitality jobs paid within one dollar of minimum wage during the second quarter of 2017, and 24 percent of retail trade jobs did as well. But even these high shares were an improvement. During the second quarter of 2016 the respective shares were 39 percent for leisure and hospitality and 28 percent for retail trade.

Overall, the wage records for the second quarter of 2017 provide additional evidence of a tight labor market. It is also possible that the increase in the state’s minimum wage pushed up wages for jobs that were already paying more than the minimum. Whatever the cause, more of Oregon’s jobs were paying higher wages in mid-2017.


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