The Oregon Coast Wage Challenge

by Erik Knoder

October 17, 2017

How can workers on the Oregon Coast find higher-paying jobs? The best single answer is to get the education and training to enter a higher-paying occupation. (Our website www.QualityInfo.org has information about those occupations.) But that isn’t the full answer. It is also important to know which firms tend to pay higher wages. State law protects the confidentiality of wage records of individual firms, but we can provide some general clues about these firms by publishing wages by industry and by firm size.

In general, larger firms pay higher wages, and firms that produce goods or deal with specialized knowledge tend to pay higher wages. The table below shows average wages in 2016 for different industries by their size based on their number of employees.

The average wage for firms with one to nine employees was $29,493. This increased for mid-sized firms to $34,867, and for large firms to $46,230. The goods producing industries, such as manufacturing, fishing, and utilities, paid higher wages than most service industries, such as accommodation and food services. Note that small utilities firms paid an average of $49,511 per year, versus small accommodation and food services firms that paid an average of $15,484 per year.

For some occupations a challenge for coastal employers is competing with employers in the Portland metro area. The overall average wage for the Portland metro area in 2016 was $56,746. Wages that are higher than this amount are highlighted in the table. Only five of the industry/size combinations paid higher wages than the average wage in Portland. This illustrates one reason why young people at the beginning of their careers, and perhaps the peak of their mobility, may leave the coast and move to Portland and other metropolitan areas.


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