Thursday, September 6, 2018

Exploring Living Wages in Oregon

In a recent report prepared for Worksystems entitled The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Oregon 2017, wage measures for self-sufficiency for each Oregon county were developed. This Self-Sufficiency Standard is a wage adequate to pay for housing, childcare, food, miscellaneous items, health care, transportation, taxes, and leave some cash for an emergency savings fund.

The self-sufficiency wage budget is “bare bones” with just enough income to meet basic needs, and no extras. So the food budget includes groceries prepared at home. Transportation includes commuting to work and day care plus one trip to the grocery store per week, no more. It assumes that you have employer-provided health insurance but that you may have to pay a portion of the monthly premium or pay some charges out-of-pocket. There’s no budget for having pizza delivered, going to the state fair, or even a subscription to Netflix. It’s just the essentials, no more.

Self-sufficiency standard wages vary greatly based on family size, location, and family make-up. For instance, a household of one adult does not have childcare expenses while a household with multiple small children may spend up to half of their budget for housing and childcare combined.

When we examine the self-sufficiency standard wage for a family with two adults, one infant, and one preschooler statewide, only 25 percent (about 528,000) of Oregon jobs meet the self-sufficiency wage threshold. The self-sufficiency standard calculates how much income families need to make ends meet without public or private assistance. Colors show hourly wage range necessary for a family of two adults, one infant and one preschooler to be self-sufficient while size of circles shows concentration of jobs in the county.
For this family of four, Washington County is the most expensive of all Oregon counties to live in, requiring $85,022 annually just to meet basic needs, and more than twice the cost for the same family to live in Malheur County ($38,253) which has the lowest self-sufficiency standard wage. Multnomah County is second highest ($84,235), followed by Clackamas ($82,329), Hood River ($73,436), and Benton counties ($72,810). The difference in living expenses from the highest cost county to the lowest is influenced heavily by the much higher costs of childcare, housing, and taxes in the metro area counties. The counties with the lowest self-sufficiency wage for this same family of four are Malheur ($38,253), Grant ($40,805), Gilliam ($41,669), Lake ($42,492), and Josephine ($42,791).

Learn more in the full article written by Northwest Oregon's Workforce Analyst Shawna Sykes

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