EUGENE, Ore. -- New research shows the number of middle class jobs in Oregon is rapidly shrinking while people are increasingly working high-wage or low-wage jobs.
This job polarization is in part because the state's middle class job market was hardest hit during the great recession, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis said.
In 1980, the middle class made up 67 percent of the state labor force - now it's dwindled to 59 percent.
State economists say advances in workplace technology, globalization and a loss of manufacturing jobs during recession all contributed to the decline.
Chuck Forster of the Lane Workforce Partnership said that despite the recovery, Oregon’s middle class continues to get hit.
“The tepid recovery has certainly not helped the middle class, as we've seen certainly in our community, manufacturing jobs lost were pretty significant,” said Forster.
Now of work for 5 months, cabinet maker Tracy Bittner said he’s seen the effects first-hand.
“Well I've put out a lot of applications and haven't gotten any responses,” Bittner said. His second office these days is at the Job Connections program at Goodwill Industries of Eugene (Seneca Road center).
He's picked up help on his resume and job search techniques. Bittner admits some days he's discouraged but adds, "There's got to be something out there. Besides, I think I'm worth hiring."