Oregon Families Squeezed by Stagnant Wages and Rising Costs

New study released by Children First for Oregon

The Status of Oregon’s Children and Families: 2016 County Data Book, which finds that even though Oregon’s median family income rose in 2015, it remained lower than it was prior to the recession, after adjusting for inflation. During the same time period, typical family expenses, such as rent, child care, and public university tuition, have continued to rise.

“The reality for too many Oregon families is that they are being squeezed by stagnant wages and rising costs,” said Children First for Oregon Executive Director Tonia Hunt. “Expenses can easily compound on one another, making it extremely difficult for families just to get by.” The data shows that since 2008 rent increased by nearly 10 percent; child care costs rose over 17 percent; and average tuition at Oregon public universities jumped over 30 percent.

The report highlights alarming poverty rates. Children were more likely to be poor in 2015 than they were in 2008. Although down from a peak in 2011, about one out of every five Oregon children were poor in 2015. Poverty rates were higher in Oregon’s rural counties and within many communities of color. In Malheur County, for example, nearly 40 percent of the children were in poverty. About a third of all Latino and Native American children, and nearly half of all Black and Pacific Islander children, lived in poverty. 

“This data shows that we need to address the root causes of poverty and racial injustice so that all families in Oregon can cover basic expenses, save for the future, and build assets,” Hunt emphasized. The Children First for Oregon report points to prioritizing policies, programs, and investments that can reduce systemic barriers and provide the security and stability for struggling families and their children, such as affordable housing, child care, and education.

“We need the collective voice of voters, businesses, and community leaders to speak up for solutions on behalf of Oregon’s most disadvantaged children,” said Hunt. In 2015, Children First for Oregon launched the United for Kids initiative in order to bring together the power of Oregon’s concern for kids into a clear and compelling voice to influence change. Children First urges Oregonians who are concerned about children in our state to join United for Kids at ORUnitedforKids.org

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