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OCPP: Middle Class Faces Pressures

Portland Business Journal

A Silverton think tank said Tuesday that Oregon's middle class faces big issues in coming years.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy, in a report called The Fraying of Oregon's Middle Class, contends that well-paying jobs are in short supply as the cost of maintaining a family continues to increase. The center compiled the report with New York-based researcher Demos.

Specifically, the report notes that Oregon manufacturing jobs comprised 13 percent of all jobs last year, compared to 23 percent in 1980. The wages of a typical Oregon worker has also only grown by $477 a year since 1994.

"Sadly, Oregonians who work hard and play by the rules can no longer expect to provide a decent life for their families," said Demos' Bob Herbert, in a statement.

Chuck Sheketoff, the Oregon group's executive director, called on state lawmakers to ensure that all economic development spending is tied to creating jobs.

Sheketoff and Herbert also want lawmakers to reinvigorate the state's labor movement, as a means toward rebuilding the middle class.

"Lawmakers must remove the barriers to organizing that unions face," said Herbert. "Organized labor must grow if the American Dream is to endure."