The 2012 economic forecast

The 2012 economic forecast

By Jon Bell

1211_WhatsAhead_01The classic Oregon winter: pale, sometimes oppressive gray clouds, endless chilly drizzle, a surprise storm here or there, and the occasional fleeting sun break that someday — someday — will win out and usher in true spring.

Metaphorically, what some might dub Oregon’s drabbest season stands in nicely for how the state’s economic climate and business scene is likely to shape up in the coming 12 months. Like heavy gray skies that linger too long, the worst of the Great Recession — unemployment, weak housing, tight credit — will continue to hang around, dampening and darkening the near term.

Unexpected natural disasters or global pressures that turn for the worse could stir up the seas again.

But a few small bright spots — think manufacturing and hospitality jobs, solid exports and continued dominance in athletic apparel — will help pierce the gray and provide at least a little relief, even if another cloud is just about to roll in.