Oregon’s Rich Are Getting Richer, Studies Say

Over the past week, the Oregon Center for Public Policy released a pair of reports on income inequality, which has hit a record high for the state.  

The first report, “Oregon tops nation in growth of million-dollar incomes,” was released on November 19, and analyzes recent data from the IRS. Between 2000 and 2017, the number of Oregonians reporting incomes of $1 million or higher increased by 133 percent, more than anywhere else in the country  

“At the same time that we’ve seen sharp growth in the number of million-dollar incomes in Oregon, we’ve also seen a housing crisis explode, college tuition climb, and preschool stay out of reach for half of all children in our state,” said Juan Carlos Ordóñez, ODCC’s Communications Director. “On many levels, it makes sense to ask the richest Oregonians to contribute more toward the common good.”  

It was followed by “Income of Oregon’s Ultra-Rich Sets New Record,” released on the 22nd. ODCC reports that in 2017 the top 0.1 percent had an average income of $4.9 million, the rest of the top 1 percent trailing behind at $1,083,000. In contrast, the state’s median income was $37,200.  

Furthermore, the income gap has grown astronomically. “In 1980, it took 26 typical (median income) Oregonians to equal the average income of the highest-earning 1 in 1,000 taxpayers, the report says. “By 2017, this had grown to 131 typical Oregonians. That is a nearly five-fold increase. The top 1 percent — highest-earning 1 in 100 taxpayers — have also seen their earnings rise much faster than the typical Oregonian. In 1980, it took the combined incomes of 10 typical Oregonians to equal the income of the average member of the top 1 percent. The gap rose to about 29 median households in 2017, a nearly three-fold increase.”  

By Brandon Urey