Many Industries Experiencing Wage and Job Growth

by Molly Hendrickson

June 13, 2024

Oregon had 2.03 million people working in jobs covered by the state’s unemployment insurance system during the second quarter of 2023. This was an increase of 68,100, or 3.5%, from the same quarter of the previous year. They earned a total of $32.2 billion, with an average wage of about $15,900 per worker for the quarter. The median hourly wage during the quarter was $26.08.

Widespread Wage Growth Across Many Industries and Firm Sizes

Oregon employers reported almost 2.2 million jobs during the second quarter of 2023. The vast majority of Oregonians (88.8%) held one job during the quarter. Approximately 9.8% of workers in the second quarter of 2023 held two jobs, 1.2% of workers held three jobs, and 0.3% of workers held four or more jobs. This looks similar to a year ago in the second quarter of 2022.

Meanwhile, the median wage increased by $0.30 (1.2%) over the year, after being adjusted for inflation according to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). Strong inflation over the past few years has translated to fewer industry wages keeping up in their real purchasing power, though many industries had wage gains greater than inflation.

Eleven industries had real wage gains, meaning that the median wage increased more than inflation: state government, leisure and hospitality, other services, construction, wholesale trade, professional and business services, manufacturing, financial activities, retail trade, health care and social assistance, and private educational services. State government had the largest real gain in median wage percentage growth from second quarter 2022 to second quarter 2023 (7.0%). However, a handful of industries had decreases in real median wage. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities jobs had the biggest decrease in both real percentage change (-4.6%) as well as the real dollar value decrease (-$1.31).
Table showing Real Change in Median Hourly Wage by Broad Industry

Median wages and real gain over the past year can also be analyzed by firm class size. As has been the case historically, median wage tends to be the highest in firms with at least 500 employees. Median wage is usually lower in smaller firms. That is still the case in second quarter 2023. Further, if we look at how the median wage has fared over the past year when it comes to inflation, we see a pattern. Adjusting median wages for inflation according to CPI-U, we can determine if a wage is worth as much now as it was last year. As it turns out, workers at most sizes of firms had positive wage growth from second quarter 2022 to second quarter 2023.

To describe this observation in other words, if someone made $25 per hour in second quarter 2022, is that $25 worth more or less in second quarter 2023? For many workers, that $25 is worth more. On the other hand, for workers at firms with 250-499 employees that $25 is worth less, though the real change is quite small, at -0.2%.

Health Care and Social Assistance is Leading the Way in Job Gains

Of the 45,900 jobs gained between second quarter 2022 and second quarter 2023, health care and social assistance experienced the largest growth in numerical change (21,950), while state government had the largest percentage change (20.9%). The largest decrease in both numerical change and percentage change occurred in retail trade (-22,365; -9.0%).

Instead of looking at the raw numerical change, it can sometimes be more helpful to look at the percentage change in jobs. Some industries are larger than others by nature, and large increases or decreases, though they account for many jobs, are a small percentage when compared with the size of the industry. For example, financial activities gained about 1,600 jobs between second quarter 2022 and second quarter 2023. This constituted a 1.8% increase. For comparison’s sake, private educational services increased by the same number of jobs as financial activities but had a much larger percentage gain: 4.6%.

It is also interesting to look at the composition of industries in the economy. As different industries experience fluctuations, the number of jobs can increase or decrease enough that the share of jobs for a particular industry increases or decreases within the economy. Generally speaking, adding jobs can lead to a larger share in the economy, while losing jobs can decrease an industry’s share of jobs – though there are exceptions. From the second quarter of 2022 to the second quarter of 2023, the share of jobs in health care and social assistance increased from making up 13.8% of all jobs to 14.6%. Leisure and hospitality; transportation, warehousing, and utilities; state government; natural resources and mining; and other services also increased in their share of all jobs.
Table showing Change in Number of Jobs by Broad Industry

Looking at the industries that gained jobs between second quarter 2022 and second quarter 2023, four industries made up the majority of those gains. Health care and social assistance; leisure and hospitality; transportation, warehousing, and utilities; and state government made up 76% of the job growth. Each of those four industries had gains over 9,000 while the rest were under 4,000.

Note that non-classifiable jobs were excluded from much of this analysis. The individuals under non-classifiable work for employers who have not yet been assigned an industry code, so it really isn’t a “sector.” Those employees will start to show up under other industries in future quarters as we are able to determine the correct code. The wage change over time for this group is meaningless, because the employers – and their employees – included here change each quarter.

To provide better data, this analysis also filters out job records that probably contain errors. Jobs that report zero hours or more than 999 hours (about 77 hours per week) worked in a quarter and jobs that paid less than the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) are excluded. Jobs that paid more than $500 per hour and reported less than 10 hours work during the quarter are also excluded.

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