Oregon Workers Lose Ground

Low- and Middle-Wage Workers Lose Ground During Economic Recovery

Oregon workers have seen their paychecks shrink in the economic upswing following the end of the Great Recession, according to a report from the Oregon Center for Public Policy. As the economy expanded from 2009 to 2014, low-wage workers saw their wages decline by more than 5 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Over the same growth period, middle-wage workers also saw their wages decline by nearly 3 percent, while high-wage workers saw their inflation-adjusted wages rise by 1 percent. While low- and middle-wage workers lost ground, the Oregon economy expanded during this time by nearly 13 percent.

This decline in wages during a period of economic expansion is one more reason why Oregon lawmakers should significantly increase the state’s minimum wage.

“The minimum wage is too low, it’s not enough to support a family on.” according to Tyler MacInnis, policy analyst with Oregon Center for Public Policy. “Oregon is due for a significant increase in the minimum wage.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy is a non-profit institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax and economic issues. The Center’s goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.

“For far too long the productivity gains that workers help create have done little to lift workers at the bottom, as the benefits have mainly flowed to those at the top,” said MacInnis. “It’s time to make the economy work for all Oregon workers.”

According to OCPP, Oregon’s minimum wage should be above $19 per hour if it had kept pace with the rise in worker productivity since 1968 — more than twice what the minimum wage will be in 2016. State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced last month that the minimum wage will stay put at $9.25 per hour in 2016.

Significantly increasing Oregon’s minimum wage would help lower-paid workers increase their economic power, increase spending in their communities and allow them to share in the economic gain.

“Lawmakers or voters need to act so that so that our lowest-paid workers can begin to share more of the economic gains they have helped produce.” said Tyler MacInnis