Oregon income 15% behind Washington

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Oregonians Need a Raise
By Oregon Prosperity Project

New Data: Oregon incomes 15% less than Washington incomes.

New 2011 data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis indicates that when it comes to per capita incomes, compared to the rest of the U.S., Washington and Oregon are on diverging tracks.

The per capita income of Washingtonians, at $44,294, is 6% higher than the national average.

Oregon’s per capita income, at $37,909, is 9% lower than the nation as a whole.

The numbers illustrate two states on different tracks.

In 1971, Washington’s per capita income was about 0.5% above the national average with Oregon’s being close, about 3% below that of the U.S. – so the gap between the two states was less than 4%. By 1981 the gap was 9%. By 1991 it was 10.7%. By 2001 it was 11.9%. And in 2011 it has widened to over 15%.

It would not be so disturbing if the gap simply reflected a difference between two states running ahead of the national average, one more successfully than the other. But it is the result of one state going up – and other down – relative to the rest of the nation.

We believe that Oregonians need a raise.

But to earn that raise, one thing is clear:

Oregon must change its approach to become more competitive in attracting and keeping jobs, notably in manufacturing, and avoid the rising specter of increased regulatory and cost barriers.

It requires that we make job creation a priority.

That’s why, over the past few months, we have advocated unapologetically for:

Exempting data centers from new intangibles taxation (upon passage of Prosperity Project-endorsed legislation, Apple announced plans to locate major data center in central Oregon)

Oregon withdrawing its share of water from the Columbia River in order to bolster agriculture and food processing (450,000 acre feet translates into 10,000 new jobs, $1.7 billion in additional income for Oregonians)

Increasing timber harvest on state-owned lands (2,000 new jobs, $440 million in additional income)

The expedited approval of a new Nestle water bottling plant (50 new jobs for the small town of Cascade Locks and a doubling of the town’s tax base)

Eliminating Oregon’s death tax (31,000 new jobs, $1.7 billion in income growth by 2017.)

Fixing a major problem that threatens to undermine Oregon’s workers’ compensation system (Oregon’s stable workers’ compensation system is a major competitive advantage for Oregon business that we can’t afford to lose.)

Each of these issues will make a huge difference for Oregon – helping us close the income gap with Washington and the rest of the country.

Here’s a more detailed look at the new income data for Oregon and Washington: