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Portland’s Middle-Income Jobs in Decline, Says Study

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


A new study released today by the Portland Business Alliance and the Value of Jobs Coaliton shows a decline in Portland's middle-income jobs. 

The study, Middle-income jobs in the Portland-metro economy, examined several aspects of middle-income jobs in the Portland area between 1980 and 2013, including share of total employment, wage growth, industries and job location. The report found that jobs at the top and bottom ends of the wage scale have grown, while those in the middle have declined, contributing to income disparity amidst an increasing cost of living. Families earning less than $70,000 a year are increasingly priced out of buying a home in the region’s core and near middle-income job centers, according to the report. 

During this time, middle-income jobs, as a share of the region's total employment, dropped from 69 percent to 57 percent, and wages for low and middle-income jobs became stagnant. The study also found that middle-income jobs are disproportionately concentrated along rivers, near medical facilities, along the high-tech corridor and in Vancouver, Washington. 

“While Portland-metro has recovered the jobs lost during the recession, this study shows us that jobs and incomes in the middle aren’t coming back as quickly. This is concerning, as these are the jobs that support families and are the backbone of our economy,” said Roger Hinshaw, president of Oregon and Southwest Washington for Bank of America, and a founding member of the Value of Jobs Coalition. “The question we must ask ourselves is, how can we create an environment that allows us to retain the quality jobs we have while growing employment opportunities in the private sector that support future growth?”

The report also shows that global market changes and technology have had major impacts on labor markets across the U.S. and in Portland-metro area. At the same time, the report shows that technological advancements and growing global trade are major drivers of jobs in Portland and Oregon.

“If we want Portland to be a place where families can prosper, then restoring middle-income jobs should be top a priority,” said Debbie Kitchin, Portland Business Alliance chair and owner of InterWorks LLC. “This will require policies and investments now in areas that grow private-sector jobs, including education and skills training, international trade, industrial land development and transportation infrastructure. Together, we can position our region for a brighter future.”


Related Slideshow: Oregon Business Rankings in US

See how Oregon stacked up against the other states in the U.S.

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Oregon gets a C+ for small business friendliness from Thumbtack, in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation.

According to the ranking:

Overall friendliness C+

Ease of starting a business B
Ease of hiring D+
Regulations D
Health & safety D
Employment, labor & hiring D
Tax code D+
Licensing C-
Environmental D
Zoning D+
Training & networking programs B+

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CEO Magazine

CEO magazine was not kind to Oregon.

The state ranked in the bottom ten states at #42.

Oregon get lumped by CEO's as being California like - too much regulation.

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The 2015 rankings puts Oregon in the top 20. Oregon ranks #18 in the United States. 

NY ranks one spot ahead at #17 and Florida ranks after Oregon.

#1 in the United States: Utah

#50 in the United States: Mississippi

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Oregon has been ranked as the 2nd most eco-friendly state in the country, according to a recent study by WalletHub

Oregon ranks eighth in environmental quality and first in Eco-Friendly Behaviors landing them in second overall. 

Oregon is behind Vermont and ahead of New York and Minnesota who land in the third and fourth spots respectively. 

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The Economist

Small Business Friendliness Grade: C+

The Economist grades states on an A+ to F grading scale for its small business climate. Oregon is one of 4 states that earned a "C+"

Overbearing bureaucracy and excessive licensing is stifling small business in America. 

Read More About The Economist Grade Here

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#22 CNBC

CNBC ranks each state in cost of doing business, economy, technology and innovation.

Read More About CNBC Ranking Here

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Wallet Hub

#28 Wallet Hub

Wallet Hub ranks each state in ROI rank, state tax rank, and overall government services.

Read More About Wallet Hub Ranking Here

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#38 Kauffman Foundation

Kauffman Foundation ranks each state in entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial activity generally is highest in Western and Southern states and lowest in Midwestern and Northeastern states.

Read More About Kauffman Ranking Here

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#19 Forbes in 2014

Forbes ranks each state in business costs, economic climate, and growth prospects.

Read More About Forbes Rankings Here


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