Monday, January 2, 2017

Oregon Gains Jobs, But...

The Oregon Employment Department records the following:

The jobs added (in Oregon) in 2016 were not just low-paying jobs. On the contrary, a mix of industries paying lower, middle, and higher average wages contributed to overall job growth. This means the average real hourly wage of Oregon’s workers continued to rise. Now approaching $25.00 per hour, the average real hourly wage in 2016 is the highest it’s been in recent years.

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell over the year, moving from 5.6 percent in November 2015 to 5.0 percent in November 2016. The strong job growth during the year was matched by a fall in the number of unemployed and an increase in Oregon’s labor force. The unemployment rate in 2016 was well below Oregon’s long-term (back to 1976) historical average of 7.2 percent.

See the entire report here.

We point out that this tends to demonstrate that increases in the minimum wage---or even discussions about increasing the minimum wage---do not necessarily affect overall employment in negative ways and that the right-wing hand-wringing over the Portland waterfront has been undeserved. We also argue that increases in employment in the state are most often cyclical and that Oregon is no less protected from automation and just-in-time production and distribution than any other place. If we saw a quick drop in employment at one point, we also saw a relatively quick recovery. The graph does not show who benefitted most or the least from the recovery. Last, it seems that these statistics help undermine the argument that Oregon's employment is generally driven by highly-educated workers since the schools picture here is so dismal. Infrastructure probably does more to attract and keep jobs than education does at this point.

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