Baker County's average wage increased in 2012

By Jayson Jacoby May 20, 2013 12:14 pm

By Jayson Jacoby

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Baker County has been adding jobs over the past year, and the average pay per job has risen as well.

Average pay in 2012 was $31,242 — an increase of 3.2 percent from 2011, according to the Oregon Employment Department’s Eastern Oregon “Labor Trends” newsletter.

That’s a bigger jump than for Oregon overall, where the average pay went up by 2.8 percent in 2012.

Baker County’s average pay increase also exceeded the national Consumer Price Index, which rose by 2.1 percent.

The newsletter doesn’t delve into the details, but Regional Economic Jason J. Yohannan notes that “average annual pay can grow because of an increase in hours worked, a chance in industrial or occupational mix, or thanks to good, old-fashioned pay raises.”

Each of the six counties in the region — Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur,  Union and Wallowa — posted higher average pay in 2012.

Grant County topped the list, with an increase of 5.2 percent, followed by Union (3.9), Wallowa (3.8), Baker (3.2), Harney and Malheur (both 3.1).

 Baker County also rates fourth among the six counties in average pay:

• Grant, $33,597

• Union, $32,976

• Harney, $32,143

• Baker, $31,242

• Malheur, $31,164

• Wallowa, $29,728

Oregon’s average annual pay is $44,273.

March was the 12th straight month in which Baker County posted a lower unemployment rate than for that month the previous year.

The jobless rate this March was 10.8 percent, compared with 12.1 percent in March 2012.

March was also the 12th consecutive month with a gain in total nonfarm employment compared with the previous year.

The Employment Department newsletter includes a chart that lists average pay in 2012 for a variety of employment sectors.

Although there are fewer government jobs in the county compared with the private sector — an average of 1,129 government jobs during 2012, compared with 3,917 in the private sector — the higher average pay for the government jobs helped to boost the county’s average.

Average pay for government jobs was $39,428, compared with $28,882 for the private sector.

Among government jobs, federal, which is the smallest group, with an average of 222 jobs, had the highest average pay of any sector in the county, public or private, at $57,136.

(The lowest average pay was in the leisure and hospitality sector, with an average of $14,325. That sector includes many part-time workers, however.)

The government sector has two other categories — state, with an average pay of $42,150 for 254 jobs, and local, which includes cities, the county and school districts, at $32,349 for 653 jobs.

The most lucrative category in the private sector in 2012 was “trade, transportation and utilities,” with an average pay of $54,668 in 231 jobs.