The Share of Minimum Wage Jobs Higher in Eastern Oregon

by Felicia Bechtoldt

July 3, 2017

Between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017, Oregon had two minimum wages. In the Portland urban growth boundary and other mostly metropolitan areas, the minimum wage was $9.75. Nonurban areas had a minimum wage of $9.50. Roughly 5.5 percent (115,225 jobs) paid minimum wage or less in Oregon in the third quarter of 2016. There are some exemptions when workers earn less than the minimum wage. The share of minimum wage jobs in Oregon has not changed much during the last 16 years. Since 2001 Oregon’s minimum wage jobs have accounted for between 4 and 6 percent of total jobs. This share does vary by county, however.
Estimates from the Oregon Employment Department show the share of jobs paying minimum wage ranged from 2.2 percent in Morrow County (165 jobs) to 12.6 percent in Malheur County (1,913 jobs). Multnomah County had 21,226 minimum wage jobs, which made up 3.9 percent of total jobs in the county.

With a larger concentration of jobs in metro areas, they also have more minimum wage jobs. The Portland tri-county area, which mostly matches the Portland urban growth boundary, had the lowest percentage of jobs (4.3%) paying minimum wage when compared with other metro areas. In fact, Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas were among the counties with the lowest percentage of minimum wage-paying jobs. The Grants Pass metro area (Josephine County) had the highest share of jobs paying minimum wage among metros at 8.6 percent.

Counties with a higher share of minimum wage jobs tended to be in rural areas. Eastern Oregon had a greater share of minimum wage jobs than other areas of the state. The highest shares of minimum wage jobs were found in Malheur (12.6%) and Harney (10.2%) counties. Other counties with a high percentage of minimum wage jobs included Grant (9.2%), Wheeler (9.2%), Baker (8.6%), and Wallowa (8.1%). Six counties had a share of minimum wage jobs lower than the statewide share of 5.5 percent. These included Morrow (2.2%), Multnomah (3.9%), Hood River (4.2%), Washington (4.3%), Crook (4.8%), and Umatilla (5.4%) counties.
On July 1, 2017 the minimum wage will increase to $11.25 per hour inside the Portland urban growth boundary, $10.00 per hour in nonurban counties, and $10.25 in other areas of the state. Oregon’s three minimum wages will be in the top five state-level minimum wages in the nation (including the District of Columbia). The highest minimum wages will be in the District of Columbia ($12.50), Massachusetts ($11.00), Washington ($11.00), California ($10.50), Connecticut ($10.10), Arizona ($10.00) and Vermont ($10.00). The federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour.

Learn more about the number of jobs that are affected by the July 1st increase in our article “Oregon’s Minimum Wage Increases on July 1, 2017" written by state employment economist Nick Beleiciks.

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