Many Clark County residents work – and pay income taxes – in Oregon

Chuck Sheketoff

A new paper by economist Amy Vander Vliet of the Oregon Employment Department notes that for many workers in Clark and Skamania counties in Washington, Oregon is a great place to work and pay the Oregon income tax:

In 2008, about 60,000 workers who lived in Clark and Skamania counties along the Columbia River in Washington State commuted to jobs in Oregon. The vast majority, over 59,000 workers, commuted from Clark County. These Oregon-bound commuters accounted for more than one-third of Clark County's resident workforce.

Interestingly, these Washingtonians commuting to Oregon for work tend to earn higher wages. About half (50.6 percent) earn more than $40,000 a year, compared with 42 percent of the entire tri-county workforce. While 19 out of every 100 workers in the tri-county area are low income (earning less than $15,000 per year), only 13 out of every 100 workers commuting from Clark County are low income.

When these southwest Washington residents work in Oregon they add to Oregon’s gross state product but their income is not counted toward Oregon’s total personal income.

But they do pay Oregon’s income tax. And because Washington doesn’t have an income tax (yet (PDF) but may), the Clark County commuters — unlike, say, California residents who work in Oregon —can’t subtract Oregon income taxes from their home state’s tax bill.

The next time someone from the business community or an editorial board tells you that Oregon’s income tax is hindering jobs, remember that about one third of Clark County’s resident workforce – over 59,000 Washingtonians – accept paying Oregon income taxes for the opportunity to work in our great state.

Read the short paper by Vander Vliet, and discuss.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at

  • (Show?)

    Chuck great posting. I don't want to hijack the thread, but this seems to illustrate the importance of Clark County to our regional economy, something I've been bashed on the head about in other threads ...

  • (Show?)

    Paul - it also speaks to the issue that when Oregon tax dollars and political capital are used to "create" or "maintain" jobs in the metro area, not all of the jobs necessarily go to Oregon residents. Clark County officials ought not cry very much when Oregon lands employers that they thought they were going to land, given the extent to which their resident workforce is willing to commute to Oregon for a job.

open discussion

connect with blueoregon