Sponsored by Oregon Business

Urban-rural wage gap is steady

| Print |  Email
Archives - October 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Coins STATEWIDE The often-cited widening gap between urban and rural wages actually has remained unchanged over the past decade, while both urban and rural wages are slipping compared to their counterparts nationwide.

“This is not such good news for rural areas, and it’s not good news for urban areas,” says state employment economist Art Ayre, who did the analysis.

After adjusting for inflation, the urban-rural wage gap has been fairly stable since 1997, says Ayre. “In the unadjusted data, what you were seeing was increasing inflation more than a widening of the gap,” he says. In 1997, average annual earnings for a metro-county worker were $26,944, and for a rural county worker they were $22,051. In 2007, that was $37,236 for a metro worker and $30,191 for a rural worker. After adjustment to 2007 dollars, the wage difference was $7,046 in 1997 and $7,045 in 2007. Counties classified as metro are Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Deschutes, Jackson, Lane, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington and Yamhill. Rural counties are all other.

Additionally, for the first time in eight years, the average earnings of workers in rural Oregon have fallen below their counterparts nationwide. Until 2006, the latest year for available data, rural wages in the state were at 97% of U.S. rural wages. The wage gap for metro workers in Oregon vs. the nation is even bigger, with those wages at 86% of average U.S. metro wages.

“Oregon just does not have the really large metro areas that the U.S. on average has, and large population centers drive higher wages,” says Ayre.

Being close to a large population center also affects prosperity of rural communities. A recent report by Oregon State University economists says remoteness is the main cause of disparities between communities that flourish and those that do not. The greater the distance between a community and its closest urban neighbor the less likely it is to prosper. That holds true nationwide, the study says, where the communities with the lowest wages are those in the most remote areas.               


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



More Articles

Seven questions about mandatory sick leave

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
102815-contributedthumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Many employers have questions about what mandatory sick leave means for their company. Take a look at the top 7 questions Oregon employers are asking.


Company Present Accepted

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

’Tis the season of giving — and that goes far beyond trees drowning in Lego sets and ironic knitwear. Santa Claus knows corporations are people too, in need of gifts to warm the hearts (and stomachs) of even the most Grinch-like CFOs.


Straight shooter

Linda Baker
Thursday, October 08, 2015
100815-bradleyBY LINDA BAKER

In an era dominated by self-promotion and marketing speak, John Bradley, CEO of R&H Construction, is a breath of fresh air.


Not Your Father's Cafeteria

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Corporate food service reaches out to foodies.


Reader Input: In or Out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The refugee crisis has put immigration and border issues on the front burner, in Europe and at home. In Oregon, attitudes toward illegal immigration haven’t changed dramatically since 2006.



Linda Baker
Thursday, November 12, 2015
111215-taxilindaBY LINDA BAKER

Raye Miles, a 17-year taxi industry veteran, lacked the foresight to anticipate the single biggest trend in the cab business: breaking the law.


5 facts about the teaching profession in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, October 08, 2015

Based on several metrics, Oregon has one of the lowest performing K-12 education systems in the country. Teacher compensation is part of the problem.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02