Friday, November 28, 2014

Wage Inequality in Oregon: The Widening Gap

by Barbara E. Peniston, Special Projects Analyst,

In 2013, four-quarter employees earned a total of more than $65.6 billion in covered wages, an increase of nearly $25 billion over 1990. The gains in wage income, however, have not been evenly shared by all workers. High-wage workers' slice of the wage pie has increased in size, while that of low- and middle-wage workers has shrunk.

One way to track the degree of wage inequality is to compare wages by earnings percentile. 

In 2013, the bottom 20 percent of year-round Oregon wage earners made $17,873 or less and the bottom half of wage earners made $35,159 or less (Table 1). The top 10 percent of year-round workers in the state made more than $90,192 and the highest earning 1 percent of workers made more than $236,415.

The median wage of the top one percent of workers grew significantly between 1990 and 2013, while the median across all workers stayed flat (see the graph below).  The top 1 percent of all four-quarter workers rose 29.9 percent over the past two decades, from $243,997 to $316,906, after adjusting for inflation.  The median inflation-adjusted wage of all four-quarter Oregon workers was essentially stagnant, rising by only 0.9 percent. 

For more detail and information on Oregon's wage inequality, read Barbara Peniston's full article: Wage Inequality in Oregon: The Widening Gap.

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