Portland’s Middle-Income Jobs in Decline, Says Study
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
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.”
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Overall friendliness C+
Ease of starting a business B
Ease of hiring D+
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Small Business Friendliness Grade: C+
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