The average national hourly wage was $23.23 in May 2015. Portland-area workers earned almost $2 more — at $25.07.
This is due to the influx of people entering high-paying professions like software development, law and engineering, said Oregon economist Joshua Lehner.
“Job growth coming out of the great recession in the Portland metropolitan area has absolutely been dominated by growth in high-wage occupations,” said Lehner.
By adding a large number of jobs to the top end of the wage spectrum, the median and average wages in the area are pulled up, according to Lehner.
Corvallis employees also earned 8 percent more than the national average, with its workers earning an average hourly wage of $25.06.
Lehner said this is due to the mix of jobs in Corvallis, from a lot of highly educated people working in and around the university, to companies like Hewitt-Packard and other highly paid jobs.
He also adds that Corvallis’ economy has been more stable than the rest of the state in recent decades, and has had shallower recessions.
Though Portland and Corvallis are well above the national average, other Oregon cities like Eugene, Salem and Bend are well below.
Eugene is about 10 percent below the nationwide average, with its employees earning an average hourly wage of $20.81.
For Eugene, Lehner said the main contributor to the lower wages was the loss of manufacturing during the recession.
“They got hit particularly hard during the great recession,” said Lehner.
“About half of their job losses from the recession were in manufacturing,” said Lehner. “Those manufacturing jobs are more or less a permanent decline, and it takes a really long time to adjust your economy and overcome such a massive hit to a productive, decent paying sector.”
Lehner said Eugene is adjusting though, growing economically with one-and-a-half to two percent job growth.
This growth is typical for the Eugene area, just slower than what is occurring in the Portland area.
According to the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in Portland, the highest-paying jobs are that of architectural and engineering managers at an average hourly wage of $77.39. That’s $160,970 a year.