Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wage Inequality on the Rise in Oregon

Over the past two decades, the distribution of wage income in Oregon has continued to become more unequal. In 2011 employees who worked in all four quarters earned a total of more than $61 billion in covered wages, an increase of $22 billion from 1990 earnings. The gains in wage income have not been evenly shared by all workers though. High-wage workers' slice of the wage pie has increased in size, while that of low- and middle-wage workers has diminished. 

In 2011, the bottom 20 percent of year-round Oregon wage earners made $17,100 or less and the bottom half of wage earners made $33,987 or less. At the same time, the top 10 percent of year-round workers in the state made more than $86,419, and the highest earning 1 percent of workers made more than $232,926. Between 1990 and 2011, the real wages (inflation-adjusted) of the lowest-paid of the top 10 percent rose 20.5 percent, while the maximum wage of the lowest 20 percent increased by 5.7 percent.

The gap between the 50th percentile wage value and higher percentile wage values has widened over time. The ratio of the 99th percentile to the 50th percentile wage was 5-to-1 in 1990, but has since steadily widened to 7-to-1 in 2011. Over the same period, the gap between the wage of the bottom 20th percentile and the 50th percentile changed little, remaining at 2-to-1.

If you want to learn more about wage inequality in Oregon, check out the full article, written by Special Projects Analyst Barbara Peniston.

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