The counties of Southwestern Oregon – Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties – have all experienced an increase in nominal wages since 2011. However, real wage growth is the net growth in wages after adjusting for inflation. This measurement is a more telling indicator of how far each county’s average annual wages go, or rather what their annual average wage’s purchasing power is over time as inflation occurs. For example, a certain set of workers could receive a 2 percent raise in their wages at the beginning of the year, but see inflation rise at 3 percent from the year prior. Therefore, they have actually experienced a decrease in the purchasing power of their wages as their dollar won’t go as far as it used to.
Coos County’s 2016 annual average wage of $37,083 shows a 10.7 percent increase in real wage growth since 2011. Curry County’s 2016 annual average wage of $34,078 shows a 5.1 percent increase in real wages, and Douglas County’s 2016 annual average wage of $38,731 has seen an 8.0 percent increase in real wages within the same timeframe of five years. Since the rate of inflation in Oregon was 5.3 percent from 2011 to 2016, this means that Curry County’s average wage has marginally less purchasing power than it did five years ago.
Real wage growth varies from county to county, with Morrow County topping the state’s list with a 23.8 percent increase in real wages and Gilliam County experiencing a 10.8 percent decrease in real wages, coming in last. Coos County’s real wage growth ranks seventh, Douglas County’s ranks 21st, and Curry County’s ranks 31st out of Oregon’s 36 counties.