Based on annualized income and employment growth, Portland dropped from its pre-recession ranking of 45th best metro area in the world to a painful 139th at the worst of the recession, according to a study released today by the Brookings Institution and the London School of Economics. While we previously held a respectable world standing in terms of economic growth, nestled between Istanbul and Bogota, Portland's current ranking of 102nd drops us between Zurich and Turin, the "Detroit of Italy".

The study's author, Alan Berube, attributed Portland's plummet to an over-reliance on its real estate market.

The whole state's coming down with us. Since 1996, not one component of Oregonians' incomes (net earnings, personal current transfers, dividends, interest or collected rent) has kept pace with its national average growth rate, according to a study released this month by the Oregon Employment Department.

In the decade prior to 2007, Wyoming's income growth rate was five times that of Oregon, which was itself about 8 percent below the national average. In 2009, the average Oregonian's income was $36,125—9 percent below the national average—and social security payments accounted for a full one-fifth of that figure.

Median U.S. and Oregon wages for multiple professions in 2009.
  • Median U.S. and Oregon wages for multiple professions in 2009.

Arranged by average income, Oregon ranks 32nd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia—our worst recorded ranking since the government began collecting data in 1929. And even if we blame Clark County and try to count the income it carries over the Columbia each evening, Oregon's "average income" only rises by $608 each year—enough to put us above Maine at 31st in the nation, but not enough to save us from what would still be our worst ranking ever, according to the study.

So which states are doing well? All of New England, and especially Connecticut. The District of Columbia, which logged an average income of $68,013 last year and is ranked first in the nation. Wyoming. Colorado. Even the average North Dakotan pulled in $4,600 more than the average Oregonian in 2009.

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Also of note are the study's findings that business owners in Oregon earn less than their national counterparts—since 1996, the income growth rate of Oregon proprietors has been a paltry one-third of the national average—and that Oregon is one of the top 10 states with the highest numbers of involuntary part-time workers.

Moral of the story? You're not imagining that it's so difficult to earn a living around here.