June 12, 2014

I’ve blogged on this before, but a story in the Medford Mail Tribune by Greg Stiles, one of the most prolific and best business reporters I know, shared a variety of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that should be important to people who are selling goods and services. The marketing takeaway in Greg’s story is not that we have a lot of broadcast technicians, but how low wages are overall in Southern Oregon.

Yes, you can find high paying jobs here. As Greg reported, “the average wage for health care practitioners and technical occupations in the Medford area are 15 percent higher than the national average.” In talking to my physician friends, they are paying top dollar to attract practitioners (and their reluctant spouses) to a rural area. But BLS reports that the bulk of jobs in the area; health care staff, office and administrative workers, and retail jobs, all pay less in Medford.

David Kong, a statistician with the BLS in San Francisco, stated, “In general, wages are lower in Medford for some reason. I think it has to do with the mix of occupations and concentrations.”

David, I agree, but the “some reason” could be that our school system is creating a lot of unskilled workers who want to stay here and they have to accept less. Also, many educated workers that want to live here are willing to be under-employed (college grads working below their pay grade, as they say). The real reason is that our local economy is driven by very, very small businesses (with less than 20 employees) that find it hard to pay big city wages.

Finding and targeting consumers with money to spend has always been a critical marketing goal; in Southern Oregon it is downright essential. They may be one reason why my research division, DCG Research, has seen a 150% increase in local research projects over the past year. More businesses are using research tools to find these people.

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