Monday, August 26, 2013

Not Just a Low-Wage Recovery in Portland

It's not news that Portland was hit hard by the Great Recession. It dug a hole more than 80,000 jobs deep, and for more than three years the region has slowly been clawing its way out. As of the middle of 2013, the greater metro area was just a few thousand jobs shy of a complete recovery.

Headlines nationwide tout the 'low wage recovery'. While it's true that the Portland metro area has added many lower-paying jobs since the end of the recession, fast food joints and malls aren't the only ones putting out 'help wanted' signs. The housing market is rebounding and construction firms are hiring. Specialty trades (e.g., plumbers and electricians) pay upwards of $55,000 on average and they've gained 4,500 jobs in the past few years. Ambulatory care, where workers earn an average of $63,500 a year in places such as medical and dental offices, has grown by 3,400 jobs. Computer systems design ($94,700) and high-tech manufacturing ($120,200) chipped in 2,500 jobs each.

On the whole, roughly half of all jobs created since the end of the recession are in industries paying more than $50,000 annually. However, these solid gains have not quite made up for recessionary losses. We're still about 4,000 jobs away from a complete recovery in this wage class, which accounted for nearly half of the recessionary losses.

Lower-paying industries (less than $30,000) have added 20,700 jobs during the past three years, or about one-quarter of the post-recession growth. Industries with mid-range pay ($30,000-$50,000) account for the remaining new jobs (21,500).

For more information about Portland's job recovery, check out the full article written by regional economist Amy Vander Vliet.

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