With wage growth starting to pick up in Oregon it can be useful to figure out where wages are growing. NPR has a nice graph showing industry growth nationwide and we have been asked if we had an analog for Oregon. What I’ve done is take the QCEW data for the first half of the year and compare real (inflation-adjusted) growth across Oregon. First up is wage growth by industry. Similar to the NPR graph, stronger real wage gains are happening more at the top and bottom ends of the labor market. As our office has detailed before, job polarization is impacting the labor market, particularly in terms of the number and availability of jobs. However, wage growth per employee is also showing at least some of these patterns.
Secondly, I used the same methodology but looked at average wages by county in Oregon. Our office has talked a lot about the economic recovery and job growth across Oregon, however not much about local level wages. This focuses just on private sector wages for the first half of 2014. The gray counties are at or near the statewide average of inflation-adjusted real wage gains of 0.7% while the red and blue counties are comparatively weaker or stronger, respectively.
To get a better, bigger picture look one would likely need to compare the 2014 data to, say, 2007 averages to see how the recession and expansion have impacted wages at the local level. However, statewide the economic news is brightening. The labor force response is in full swing (more job opportunities attracting more workers back into the labor force, looking to land one of these jobs.) As the labor market begins to tighten, we are now seeing some real wage growth. It’s still low, but it’s faster than the rate of inflation and our baseline outlook is for this to continue moving forward. Possibly, finally, some good news for wages on the seventh anniversary of the Great Recession’s start date.