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Economic indicators -- Oregon, Poverty -- Oregon, Working class -- Oregon -- Economic conditions, Families -- Economic aspects -- Oregon


The Portland metro region economy is near a complete recovery from the damage of the Great Recession that began seven years ago. Unemployment in April of 2015 was 5.2 percent, cut in half from the 2011 rate of 10.5 percent. The region ranked among the top 10 metro region areas in the nation for employment growth in 2014.

Unfortunately, the benefits of this economic resurgence are not experienced equally. Ideally, economic recovery should lead to jobs and wages that enable Portland metro region families to earn enough to provide for their basic needs. Low unemployment cannot offer high quality of life if the jobs available do not pay adequate wages to make ends meet. Furthermore, public and nonprofit organizations are burdened by the demand on social services caused by families that cannot earn enough to cover basic needs like food, housing and health care.

Many families in the Portland region do not earn adequate income to make up for the rising costs of life’s necessities, and self-sufficiency eludes far more families than is indicated by federal poverty statistics. Households headed by women or people of color, and families with children, are highly overrepresented among those who cannot make ends meet. Education can close part of this racial and gender gap, but it is not a panacea; other barriers persist for those families who are least likely to attain self-sufficiency.

This study is a demographic analysis of self-sufficiency in the Portland metro region.


Published by the Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies, School of Urban Studies and Planning, College of Urban and Public Affairs (

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