Wage Inequality in Oregon


The chart above comes from an Oregonian story by Jeff Manning.

It shows that average annual wages for Oregon’s top 2 percent of earners grew by 29.5 percent (adjusted for inflation) over the period 1990 to 2008.  By comparison, average annual earnings for those at the 50th percentile grew by only 2.5 percent over the same period.

And of course earnings inequality is far greater than these numbers suggest since they only include wage earnings.  The richer the person the more their earnings typically come from investment income.

The significance of these trends: our economy is structured so that only a very few enjoy the benefits of growth.  Our challenge then is not to renew existing economic patterns and relations (which is what current government policy seems designed to achieve, even if not very effectively), but rather to create a new economy.  And this will have to be an intentional restructuring.  Relying on market forces means relying on those who already dominate our economic lives, and it is pretty clear where their interests lie.

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