Study: Portlanders choose to work less, earn less

Study: Portlanders choose to work less, earn less

PORTLAND, Ore. – Is Portland really “where young people go to retire?”

The famous quote from Portlandia may not be a total exaggeration after all.

A study on Portland jobs released Tuesday by the Portland Business Alliance claims adults in the Metro area choose to work less.

In the last 15 years, Portland’s per capita income went from four percent above the U.S. average to four percent below. College-educated workers earn about ten percent less than the national average, according to the study.

The study focuses on white, college-educated men because they are easier to compare across U.S. metro areas, the Portland Business Alliance said.

“Ever since our first economic study revealed this disturbing relative decline in our region’s per capita income, we’ve been attempting to identify both the cause and solution for the decline,” Portland Business Alliance Chair Dennis Rawlinson said in a news release.

“This new study gives us some answers about the cause of the decline, but more importantly, it sounds the alarm for strategic policy-making that retains and grows jobs in our region,” he added.

But does the study mean that Portland’s over-educated, under-employed workers are slackers? 35-year-old barista Vernon Shepard says no.

“I thought I was going to teach English,” said Shepard, who has an undergraduate degree in music and a graduate degree in education.

So why has he worked at Palio Dessert and Espresso House for the last six years?

“Pursue your passions,” he said. “We have so many messages in our culture today, that don’t really support, I think, kids pursuing what really interests them.”

His passion is to compose and rehearse music with his band. Shepard said the money’s tight, but he gets to do what he loves most.

“One of the things I like about Portland, there’s a lot of people seeking quality of life. Part of that is finding a balance between work and, you know, other things.”