Not sure about the economic conditions in Salem, but Medford is currently listed as the 3 rd worst in the United States. Only two other areas in the U.S. have a worse economic situation.
Culture wise, Medford has Salem beat hands down with Britt Festivals that pull in big name Entertainers, Summer Concerts in the Parks, Internationally Re-known Shakespeare theater, Summer Concerts at the County Fair Grounds.
Recreational Activities in Medford include, Snow Skiing, Snow Mobiles, Cross country Skiing, Water Skiing in numerous nearby lakes, scuba diving, white water rafting, world class salmon fishing on rivers, hunting of all types, atv riding in the forest, motorcycles, horse trails in the forest, camping, just about anything you can think of is available. Thats in addition to the normal night life in Clubs and Restaurants.
For weather, Medford beats Salem. Salem gets 65 inches of rain per year and it can fall anytime summer or winter. Medford gets 17 inches of rain and almost all of it falls during November to April. The summer temperatures in Salem are better, they are normally in the 80's, while Medford hits 110 or above during July and August. The hot weather in Medford makes water sports a major past time.
If you have a source of income, Medford is definitely the better place to live in my opinion. If you don't have a source of income and need a job, then Salem is the only choice you can make.