Monday, July 14, 2014

Payrolls Have Recovered in the Portland and Columbia Gorge Areas

Throughout Oregon the changes in both total and average annual pay vary greatly. From 2007 to 2013, seven out of Oregon’s 36 counties posted inflation-adjusted gains in total annual payroll. Sherman County had the largest percentage increase at 17.9 percent. On the eastern side of the state, Harney County had the largest drop at 16.5 percent (see chart below).

The counties posting gains in total payroll from 2007 to 2013 are in the Portland metro and Columbia Gorge areas. These counties weathered the recession relatively well compared with other Oregon counties. Hood River, Morrow, Multnomah, Wasco, and Washington counties now have more jobs than they did prior to the recession.

In regards to average annual pay, 17 counties (nearly half) posted inflation-adjusted gains. These gains were more widely spread across the state compared with the gains in total annual payroll. Washington County’s increase of 5.8 percent was the largest in the state, while Gilliam County’s average annual pay dropped the most at 7.3 percent.

The county disparities are likely explained by a few things. Take Crook County, for example, where total annual payroll is down 12.6 percent from 2007 to 2013, while average annual pay is up 5.6 percent. One contributing factor to the growth in average pay is the increase in employment in the information sector from 35 in 2007 to 70 in 2013. Though the industry’s employment only increased by 35 over the period, the total annual pay jumped from roughly $1 million to almost $14 million. The average annual pay for jobs in the information sector was $199,492 in 2013, which helps bring up the overall average in the county. Overall employment is still below pre-recession levels, which lowers total annual pay because the new high-paying information jobs are not enough to offset the payroll losses during the recession.

This article was written by Workforce Analyst Martin Kraal

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