Portland's Slothful Creative Class?

In an article entitled "Portland area's college-educated workers depress metro earning power by choosing low-paying fields, shorter hours," The Oregonian's Betsy Hammond reports on a new study decrying the less than robust economic impact of Portland's younger college graduates, especially males. According to Hammond, " the Portland metro area's young college-educated white men are slackers when it comes to logging hours on the job, and that's one reason people here collectively earn $2.8 billion less a year than the national average." The report is characterized as finding that "Portlanders tend to choose majors, careers and work hours that lead to low pay."

The report, "Higher Education & Regional Prosperity; The Story Behind Portland-Metro's Income Decline," was commissioned by the Value of Jobs Coalition. It documents a "startling decline in per capita income relative to the US" metropolitan average. Since 1997, metropolitan Portland's per capita income has fallen from 5% above the national metropolitan average to 5% below.

The report indicates that "the biggest driver of this trend is our college educated workers, who work less and earn less, creating a significant income gap," though cautiously notes that it is not clear whether” the lower hours and earnings are the result of a lack of higher-paying/time-intensive jobs available or the result "life style choice(s)" to not work in higher-paying jobs."

The report found the largest differences compared to other metropolitan areas to be among white males from 25 to 39 years old. The differences with the rest of the country were substantially less among older white males.


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