Rosy forecast sees 100,000 jobs on the horizon

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

PORTLAND The current economy might be sinking, sucking down jobs and incomes with it, but at least one group is bullish on future employment growth.

Greenlight Greater Portland, a private economic development group, in concert with Global Insight, an international economic analysis firm, predicts that the greater Portland-Vancouver area will create 100,000 new jobs in the next five years.

“We have a bullish view of the Pacific Northwest,” says Jim Diffley, a managing director with Global Insight, because he says knowledge workers are attracted to the area, and businesses will follow the workforce they need. The growth areas include:

Professional and business services: 32,000 new jobs, for a total of 170,300. That includes adding 2,000 jobs between 2007-2008.

Financial services: 8,500 new jobs, with a slight decline seen in the next year, but rebounding in 2009.

Information services: 2,000 new jobs, a growth rate “second only to Seattle’s.”

Construction and natural resources: This sector is projected to lose about 2,700 jobs through this year, but rebound in 2009 and grow by 7.2%.

Other sectors with significant jobs gains, according to Diffley, will be trade and transportation (15,000); education and health (10,000); government (8,000); and leisure and hospitality (5,000).

The analysis also predicted that the gross regional product would grow 29% to $144 billion in the next five years, which it noted was higher than for cities such as San Jose, Seattle, Denver and Albuquerque.

The findings, issued in a report in June, also noted that the region added 88,000 jobs from 2002-2007 — more than in San Francisco, San Jose and Denver combined. The sectors that contributed to that included 17% from professional services, 17% from education and health services, 17% from construction and natural resources, and 4% from manufacturing.

Global Insight also provides analysis for the state, which in late May issued its most recent revenue forecast, saying revenues were stable: In the upcoming biennium, the state should have $17 billion in tax and lottery money to spend. At least until the effects of skyrocketing fuel and food costs kick in, just in time for the next forecast.


ROBIN DOUSSARD



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