Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Minimum-Wage Jobs Less Common in Metro Areas

County Jobs, $9.25 & Under Share of Total Jobs

Oregon’s minimum wage will remain at $9.25 per hour in 2016. The minimum wage is tied to inflation in Oregon, meaning that when prices go up, the minimum wage goes up. According to the Consumer Price Index, however, prices did not increase enough in 2015 for a minimum wage boost.

As of January 1, 2016, Oregon’s minimum wage will be the eighth highest among states, lower than our neighbors to the north and south, Washington ($9.47) and California ($10.00).

While Oregon’s minimum wage is linked to inflation, the federal minimum wage is not. In fact, the federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour, where it has been since 2009.

Just over 5 percent of jobs in Oregon paid $9.25 or less in the first quarter of 2015. This 5 percent figure doesn’t change much. Since the turn of the century, Oregon’s minimum wage jobs have accounted for between 4 and 6 percent of total jobs. This share does vary by region within the state, however.

Estimates from the Oregon Employment Department show the share of jobs paying minimum wage ranged from 3.5 percent in Morrow County (where 211 jobs paid minimum wage or less) to 11.1 percent in Malheur County (where 1,454 jobs paid minimum wage or less). Multnomah County had 19,070 jobs at minimum wage or less, which made up 3.8 percent of total jobs in the county.

While a larger population means more minimum wage jobs exist in metro areas, the share of jobs paying minimum wage is smaller. Estimates showed the Portland metro area had the lowest percentage of jobs paying minimum wage. In fact, Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties were all in the bottom five counties with the lowest percentage of minimum wage-paying jobs. The Grants Pass MSA (Josephine County) had the highest share of jobs paying minimum wage among metros at 7.6 percent.

Counties with more jobs paying minimum wage or less were scattered across the state, but tended to be rural areas. Southern and eastern Oregon had a greater share of minimum wage-paying jobs than the rest of the state. Malheur (11.1%) and Harney (9.8%) counties had the highest percentage of jobs paying minimum wage, and are bordered by Baker (8.2%) and Grant (8.1%) counties, which also had a high shares. Other counties with a high percentage included Wheeler (8.9%), Curry (8.2%), and Lincoln (8.0%).

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