Friday, February 5, 2016

Smaller Employers Have Higher Shares of Minimum Wage Jobs

Smaller employers tend to employ a larger share of their workforce in minimum wage jobs. While private employers with fewer than 50 employees working in Oregon employ 38 percent of Oregon’s jobs, they are home to 45 percent of the state’s minimum wage jobs.

The largest private employers – those with 500 or more employees in Oregon – have the lowest share of minimum wage jobs, at 4 percent. These large employers account for 28 percent of Oregon’s total workforce, and because they are so large, even the small share of minimum wage jobs in this size class amounts to a lot of minimum wage jobs. Employers with more than 500 employees had 18,600 minimum wage workers in the first quarter of 2015, accounting for 19 percent of the state’s minimum wage employment.

For more information on Oregon's minimum wage, read "Oregon's Minimum Wage Jobs: Facts, Figures and Context"

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Oregon’s Minimum Wage and the Federal Poverty Threshold

by Nick Beleiciks,

UPDATE: This post was originally written on August 14, 2015. It was updated on February 4, 2016 as part of our minimum wage report. For more information on minimum wage, read Oregon's Minimum Wage Jobs: Facts, Figures and Context.

Recently, we were asked to illustrate how changes in Oregon’s minimum wage over time related to poverty. That is a complex comparison because the minimum wage applies to jobs, while the federal poverty level threshold varies by how many people are in a family. Add in the amount of time spent working during the year and there are three points that need to be considered: the wage; the number of weeks on the job; and the number of family members.

One approach, shown here, is to graph the number of weeks it would take to reach the federal poverty threshold while working one full-time job at the minimum wage.

An individual working 40 hours per week at Oregon’s minimum wage needs to work 34 weeks during the year in order earn enough to reach the poverty threshold. If the individual worked more than 34 weeks, their income would be above the federal poverty threshold.

The poverty threshold is higher for families, so someone supporting a family of three would need to work 52 weeks during the year in order to earn enough to reach the poverty threshold. These are just examples; other family sizes require a different number of weeks to reach the poverty threshold.

Oregon’s minimum wage and the federal poverty threshold are adjusted annually for inflation using the same index of consumer prices, so the number of weeks worked at minimum wage required to meet the poverty threshold has been fairly stable since 2003.

Prior to annual adjustments to Oregon’s minimum wage, the number of weeks reached a high of 46 weeks for an individual and 70 weeks per year for a family of three in 1988. Looking forward, the number of work weeks should remain stable unless there is an additional change in Oregon’s minimum wage, beyond the annual adjustment for inflation.

The federal minimum wage is lower than Oregon’s minimum wage, so workers in other states earning the federal minimum wage need to work longer before they reach the poverty threshold. An individual needs to work full time for 42 weeks at the federal minimum wage to reach the poverty threshold. In this straightforward example, someone supporting a family of three would have to work 65 weeks during the year at the federal minimum wage to reach the poverty threshold. Of course, it is impossible to work 65 weeks in one year, which means a family of three with one wage earner at the federal minimum wage will be in poverty without another source of income.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Oregon’s Purchasing Power Outperforms Nation

Unlike Oregon’s minimum wage, the federal minimum wage has lost some of its real purchasing power. The national minimum wage in 2016 buys less than it did when it was raised to $7.25 in 2009. To buy the same goods and services today, a worker would have to make $8.14 per hour. So the real purchasing power of the national minimum wage has fallen 89 cents (11%) since its last increase. In contrast, the purchasing power of Oregon’s minimum wage has increased slightly.

Prior to the late 1980s, the national minimum wage was higher than the minimum wage specified in Oregon law, so the federal minimum wage prevailed. The real purchasing power of the minimum wage fell by $2.50 due to inflation in the 1980s, until Oregon raised its minimum wage above the federal minimum in 1989. Oregon’s minimum wage was higher than the federal minimum wage each year since (except 1996, when they were equal) and the increases of the late 1990s were relatively large and fast.

When minimum wage increases are not linked to inflation, the inflation adjusted minimum wage tends to follow a peak and valley pattern. Relatively large increases in the minimum wage occur irregularly and are followed by years of the minimum wage’s purchasing power being eroded by inflation. This means the real federal minimum wage varies over time, which makes long-term planning more difficult for employers and their workers. Oregon’s minimum wage increases have been frequent and relatively small since the switch to annual increases in 2004, helping the real minimum wage remain steady over the years.

For more information on Oregon's minimum wage, read "Oregon's Minimum Wage Jobs: Facts, Figures and Context"

Monday, February 1, 2016

Hood River County’s 2014 Home Values the Highest in Oregon

Only 12 of Oregon’s 36 counties saw their home values rise between 2010 and 2014; all were rural with the exception of Benton County. Wheeler County’s median home value climbed the most since 2010, rising by $27,700 (21.8%) to $126,800. Wheeler County’s in-state ranking also improved, rising from dead last in 2010 (36th) to 33rd position in 2014.

In 2014, the state’s highest owner-occupied median home value resided in Hood River County. Hood River County’s $309,500 median was $13,900 higher than second place Clackamas County’s $295,600 and 32 percent above Oregon’s $234,100.

Home values in Hood River County were concentrated in the $300,000 to $499,000 group, which represented just over 35 percent of its homes compared with around 23 percent of Oregon’s owner-occupied homes and 24 percent for Deschutes County. The biggest gap for Hood River County came in the $150,000 to $199,000 group, which represented just 9.7 percent of its owner-occupied homes. Oregon’s share of owner-occupied homes in this group was considerably higher, at 16.8 percent, similar to Deschutes County’s 16.1 percent.

To learn more about home values in various counties, read Regional Economist Dallas Fridley's article: Hood River County’s 2014 Home Values the Highest in Oregon.

Friday, January 29, 2016

New Report Gives Facts, Figures, and Context Related to Oregon's Minimum Wage

The Oregon Employment Department has released a new report about the state's minimum wage. At $9.25 per hour, Oregon's minimum wage ranks 8th highest among all states. Oregon's minimum wage sits $2 per hour above the national rate ($7.25) which has been the same since 2009.

Almost 100,000 (or 5%) of Oregon's jobs paid $9.25 or less in the first quarter of 2015. About one-third of Oregon's jobs (34%) earned wages between $9.26 and $14.99 in 2015. Altogether, two out of every five jobs in the state paid less than $15.00 per hour.

More than two-thirds of all minimum wage jobs in Oregon were found in leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and natural resources and mining during the first quarter of 2015. Occupations with the largest number of jobs at $10 per hour or less included food preparation and serving workers, waiters, retail salespersons, cashiers, cooks, bartenders, and janitors.

Generally, almost two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Minimum wage workers tend to be young, and most do not have a college degree.

In Oregon, the number and share of minimum wage jobs varies from one county to the next. For example, Malheur County's 1,500 minimum wage jobs totaled 11 percent of all jobs, the highest share of all counties. At the same time, Multnomah County's 19,000 minimum wage jobs accounted for 4 percent of all jobs.

Much more information about the state's minimum wage can be found in the full report, "Oregon's Minimum Wage Jobs: Facts, Figures, and Context." State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks also details many interesting findings from the new minimum wage report in this podcast:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

If You Want to Age in Place, a Home Health Aide Can be Your Best Friend

For people who naturally love caring for people, becoming a home health aide could serve as a rewarding career. Home health aides take care of patients who are elderly, disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired while they are living at home or residing in an assisted living facility.

In 2012, there were 7,101 home health aides in Oregon and about 875,100, nationwide. The demand for this occupation is expected to grow as the older population expands and more and more people choose to age in place in their homes. Home care is typically less expensive than nursing home or hospital care, so many senior citizens are preferring to remain in their home for as long as possible. 

The Oregon Employment Department’s 10-year projections show that the number of home health aides will grow by 33.8 percent from 2012 to 2022 and provide 240 new openings and 135 replacement openings, annually. This is a much higher growth rate than the statewide average of 15.4 percent for all occupations.

A large portion of home health aides work part-time and can work in a variety of settings. Nationwide, many are employed by home health care services industries and are staffed out to homes or assisted living facilities. Other work settings include mental health and substance abuse facilities, nursing and assistant care facilities, and community care homes. In Oregon, more than half (59%) of home health aides worked in assisted living or continuing care facilities in 2012 where the majority of residents live in their own apartments. Only 11 percent, or 750 home health aides, worked for home health care services in 2012 but this number is expected to increase as the industry grows due to increasing demand from the aging population.

To learn more about home health aides, read Workforce Analyst Lynn Wallis' article in Oregon Labor Trends: If You Want to Age in Place, a Home Health Aide Can be Your Best Friend.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.4 Percent in December

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent in December 2015, down from 5.7 percent in November 2015. This decrease moves Oregon’s rate closer to the national level, and down significantly from last year’s December rate of 6.7 percent. 

Oregon added 2,300 jobs in December. Sectors with significant growth included manufacturing added (+1,100 jobs) and government (+800).

 “Oregon’s economy finished the year strong, adding 17,100 jobs in the last three months of 2015,” said Nick Beleiciks, Oregon’s state employment economist. “Job growth continues to be widespread, with most major sectors adding more jobs than they usually do this time of year.”

 Looking back over the most recent 12 months, Oregon’s economy grew rapidly, adding 54,600 jobs in 2015. Oregon’s 3.1 percent job growth rate was faster than the U.S. growth rate of 1.9 percent.

For more on this month's employment situation: Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.4 Percent in December

Friday, January 8, 2016

Made in Oregon: A Profile of the State’s Manufacturing Sector

Oregon’s manufacturing sector is growing more quickly than the nation’s. Since December 2009, manufacturing employment in Oregon has grown by 14.4 percent compared with the nation’s 7.4 percent. Over the year, Oregon saw manufacturing growth of 2.4 percent, higher than the nation’s 0.7 percent.

All of Oregon’s eight measured broad manufacturing industries grew over the year. The top five are shown in the table above. Notice that each of Oregon’s top five broad industries grew more quickly than its national equivalent. Oregon’s top manufacturing industry, computer and electronic component manufacturing, grew at 1.4 percent compared with just 0.1 percent nationally. In addition, computer and electronic component manufacturing made up 19.8 percent of Oregon’s manufacturing jobs and 8.6 percent of jobs across the nation. In other words, Oregon’s biggest manufacturing industry is growing faster than the industry across the United States, and makes up more jobs. 

Another important industry in Oregon is wood product manufacturing, which made up 12.3 percent of manufacturing jobs in October 2015. It grew at 4.1 percent compared with the nation’s 1.7 percent. Nationally, wood product manufacturing only made up 3.1 percent of manufacturing jobs.

A more detailed industry analysis shows just how diverse the manufacturing sector is. The largest detailed industry by far is the semiconductor and electronic components industry. It also pays far more than any of the other top industries. Other high-paying industries on the list include electronic instrument manufacturing and aerospace product and parts manufacturing.

True to Oregon’s long history in forestry, two of Oregon’s top industries are tied to our natural resources: veneer and engineered wood products (8,200 jobs) and sawmills and wood preservation (6,400 jobs). While employment in wood product manufacturing is but a fraction of what it was a few decades ago, these two industries combine for an influential role in Oregon’s manufacturing sector.

Two relatively low-paying industries on the top 10 list of largest industry employers are the frozen food manufacturing industry and the bread and bakery product manufacturing industry. While these industries make up a large chunk of Oregon’s manufacturing sector, the jobs paid an average annual wage considerably lower than the statewide average in 2014 ($46,500).

To learn more about employment in manufacturing industries in Oregon, read Economist Will Burchard's article:Made in Oregon: A Profile of the State’s Manufacturing Sector.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Oregon Businesses Report 45,000 Vacancies in Fall

The state's private employers reported 45,000 vacancies this fall, according to the quarterly job vacancy survey results released yesterday.

Health care and social assistance showed the largest number of vacancies, as is normally the case, with 9,300 vacancies. Leisure and hospitality and retail trade (a big holiday hiring industry) also reported large numbers of vacancies. Together these three industries accounted for roughly half (52%) of all job openings statewide.

Businesses were hiring for a diverse set of occupations as broad-based economic expansion continued this fall. Holiday hiring could be seen in some of the occupational groups with the most vacancies. They included truck drivers, driver/sales workers, retail salespersons, and cashiers. Other top occupations with job vacancies this fall included personal care aides, maids, nursing assistants, and production workers.

Difficult-to-fill vacancies made up a larger share of the total in fall 2015 (59%) compared with fall 2014 (50%). Businesses were most likely to cite a lack of applicants as the primary reason for difficulty filling vacancies. As experience requirements increased, difficulty filling job openings also rose. While less than half of all job vacancies with no required experience were difficult to fill, nearly all vacancies requiring at least five years of experience were difficult to fill.

Clackamas County and the Mid-Willamette Valley reported the largest shares of difficult-to-fill vacancies (three out of four) in the fall. These two areas were also the only ones where less than half the job vacancies reported were for full-time positions. Statewide, two out of every three job vacancies were for full-time positions.

More information about Oregon's job vacancies can be found in the job vacancy survey box on the Publications page at

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Holiday Hiring in Oregon

Retailers and package delivery companies rely on the holiday season to provide an end-of-year boost in sales that makes operating during the rest of the year worthwhile. Some businesses hire extra workers, often on a temporary basis, to get them through this busy time of year. The number of jobs added by “holiday hiring” industries with strong holiday employment patterns was above average in 2014.

It’s too early to say how well staffed the stores have been for this year’s holiday shopping season. Industry trends through July show that retailers have been adding a lot of jobs this year, and a recent forecast suggests retailers will be adding more than the typical number of workers this holiday season.

A few industries had larger than average buildups in 2014. The 2014 and 2001-2014 average buildups for each industry are shown in the table. Couriers and messengers, health and personal care stores, and furniture and home furnishing stores had a larger buildup in 2014 than their average buildup.

The largest buildup occurs at general and merchandise stores, which added 3,854 jobs in the closing months of 2014. General and merchandise stores account for nearly one-third (32%) of the holiday buildup. Postal services and couriers and messengers deliver many of the packages purchased during the holiday season and their holiday workers account for about 25 percent of the total holiday jobs buildup.

Holiday buildups inevitably lead to corresponding post-holiday declines in the number of workers needed as businesses adjust back to the usual sales pace. As a group, the holiday hiring industries are growing at near the same pace as the overall economy. This suggests that some of the jobs added this season will stick around in 2016.

Read more in the full holiday hiring article, written by State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Difficulty Filling Job Vacancies in Oregon: Winter to Fall 2015

We've recently been asked about occupations with the most vacancies in Oregon during the first three quarters of 2015, and where businesses report difficulty filling job openings.

The health care industry and the leisure and hospitality industry reported the largest total number of job vacancies from winter to fall 2015. Many occupations with the most vacancies can be found in these industries. Health care examples include personal care aides, registered nurses, and nursing assistants. Leisure and hospitality-related occupations with the most vacancies so far this year include food preparation and serving workers, maids, waiters, and cooks.

The occupation with the most reported vacancies -- heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers -- did not belong to either of the top-vacancy industries. Truck drivers perennially rise near the top of the list of occupations with job vacancies. Oregon had 1,200 job vacancies for truck drivers in 2013 and again in 2014, the third-highest of any occupation in both cases. 

Personal care workers and farmworkers were the top two occupations with the largest number of vacancies statewide in 2013 and 2014.

More than half (26,500 or 59%) of all job vacancies from winter through spring were identified as difficult to fill. Businesses reported the largest number of difficult-to-fill job vacancies for a diverse set of occupations to date this year. Truck drivers, personal care aides, retail salespersons, bus and truck mechanics, maids, electricians, and computer occupations were among them. 

The primary challenge employers faced in filling more than one-third of all difficult-to-fill vacancies was a lack of applicants. As Oregon's economic expansion has continued and accelerated, the share of difficult-to-fill vacancies with a lack of applicants has risen. The share increased from 23 percent in 2013 to 30 percent in 2014, and totaled 36 percent in the first three quarters of 2015.

You can find more information about job vacancies in Oregon at in the job vacancy survey box on the publications page

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Minimum-Wage Jobs Less Common in Metro Areas

County Jobs, $9.25 & Under Share of Total Jobs

Oregon’s minimum wage will remain at $9.25 per hour in 2016. The minimum wage is tied to inflation in Oregon, meaning that when prices go up, the minimum wage goes up. According to the Consumer Price Index, however, prices did not increase enough in 2015 for a minimum wage boost.

As of January 1, 2016, Oregon’s minimum wage will be the eighth highest among states, lower than our neighbors to the north and south, Washington ($9.47) and California ($10.00).

While Oregon’s minimum wage is linked to inflation, the federal minimum wage is not. In fact, the federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour, where it has been since 2009.

Just over 5 percent of jobs in Oregon paid $9.25 or less in the first quarter of 2015. This 5 percent figure doesn’t change much. Since the turn of the century, Oregon’s minimum wage jobs have accounted for between 4 and 6 percent of total jobs. This share does vary by region within the state, however.

Estimates from the Oregon Employment Department show the share of jobs paying minimum wage ranged from 3.5 percent in Morrow County (where 211 jobs paid minimum wage or less) to 11.1 percent in Malheur County (where 1,454 jobs paid minimum wage or less). Multnomah County had 19,070 jobs at minimum wage or less, which made up 3.8 percent of total jobs in the county.

While a larger population means more minimum wage jobs exist in metro areas, the share of jobs paying minimum wage is smaller. Estimates showed the Portland metro area had the lowest percentage of jobs paying minimum wage. In fact, Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties were all in the bottom five counties with the lowest percentage of minimum wage-paying jobs. The Grants Pass MSA (Josephine County) had the highest share of jobs paying minimum wage among metros at 7.6 percent.

Counties with more jobs paying minimum wage or less were scattered across the state, but tended to be rural areas. Southern and eastern Oregon had a greater share of minimum wage-paying jobs than the rest of the state. Malheur (11.1%) and Harney (9.8%) counties had the highest percentage of jobs paying minimum wage, and are bordered by Baker (8.2%) and Grant (8.1%) counties, which also had a high shares. Other counties with a high percentage included Wheeler (8.9%), Curry (8.2%), and Lincoln (8.0%).