1/25/2010: This is old news nationally, I hadn’t seen the Oregon breakdown. From Jeff Manning in the Oregonian:
Oregonians earning at the 50th percentile saw their inflation-adjusted wages grow 4.5 percent from $31,866 in 1990 to peak of $33,318 in 2004.
The group’s income has fallen every year since then, finishing 2008 at $32,659, the lowest level since 2001.
In contrast, those at the top 98th percentile of earners saw their inflation-adjusted wages climb 31 percent in the same 18 years from $118,453 in 1990 to a peak of $155,496 in 2007.
Keep in mind that these numbers don’t tell you much about the standard of living – think how much you benefit from things that really matter, like cell phones, the internet, love, the environment, sex – relative to what you pay for them. I wish I knew enough about economics to understand how those benefits play out in terms of changes in the distribution of living standards over time.