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|Articles - December 2011|
|Tuesday, November 15, 2011|
Page 2 of 5About 12 months ago, the economy in Oregon was showing signs of relative strength. Though economic recovery was slow and weak, it was nonetheless recovery. Job losses were down and federal stimulus spending was still shoring up state and local governments, preventing layoffs and maintaining services. But about halfway through 2011, the economy began to sputter.
“We’re kind of caught in between periods of optimism and pessimism,” says Tim Duy, director of the Oregon Economic Forum. “Every time something good happens and you think, this is it, something else happens and pulls us back. That volatility is what’s creating the split between optimism and pessimism.”
In the first half of 2011, Oregon was outperforming the nation, says Joe Cortright, president and principal economist for Impresa, a Portland consulting firm. “But the recovery has lost momentum in the last six months or so, and we’re kind of in risky territory right now.”
Much of what was behind the mid-year and continued slumping was, essentially, more of what’s been hindering the economy all along. The housing market remains almost at a standstill compared to where it was a few years ago. According to the University of Oregon’s most recent Index of Economic Indicators, residential building permits fell below 600 in August — the first time that’s happened in more than a year. The state’s Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) also reported in September that housing-related industries had been adding just 50 jobs per month over the past year; in other recent years, that number was 575 jobs per month.
“The housing market is still very depressed,” Cortright says, adding that home prices are down about 5% this year and between 20% and 25% of homeowners in Oregon and the U.S. are underwater on their mortgages. Typical recoveries in the past have been powered largely by lower interest rates and a housing market that takes off. That hasn’t happened this time around.
Also fueling the slowdown were higher gas and commodity prices, continued pressure in the financial markets, uncertainty in foreign markets like China and Europe and what the OEA dubbed “public-sector pullback.” In most recessions, the public sector feels the impacts later than the private sector. This time was no different, particularly as federal stimulus funds helped maintain state and local government employees and services. Those funds, however, began to taper off this year, and the results have been noticeable in layoffs of teachers and government employees.
According to the OEA, the public sector normally adds 350 jobs each month, but over the past year it has cut 475 every month. Since September 2010 alone, the government sector has shed 7,900 jobs, according to the Oregon Employment Department.
“There had been federal money to put off those kinds of adjustments,” says Tom Potiowsky, a professor of economics and chair of the economics department at Portland State University. “That’s not here anymore. State and local governments are making serious cuts, and state and local government workers spend money in the economy just like everybody else.”
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
It may be obvious, but most farmers don’t make a lot of money. According to preliminary data from the 2012 Agriculture Census, 52% of America’s 2.1 million principal farm-operators don’t call farming their primary occupation. Farm cooperatives may offer a solution.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY BRANDON SAWYER
The 100 Best Companies get more creative with perks and more generous with benefits; employees seek empowering relations with management and coworkers.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
Les Schwab has put a premium on customer service since 1952, when legendary namesake Les Schwab founded the company with one store in Prineville. (Schwab died in 2007.) But if the corporate principles remain essentially the same, the world around this iconic Oregon business has changed dramatically.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
How can we strengthen the performance of institutions charged with teaching what Francis Fukuyama calls the social virtues (reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust) necessary for successful markets and democracy itself?
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Ron Green became president and CEO of Oregon Pacific Bank in August 2013.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER
The “polar vortex” of 2014 seems to have finally thawed and we believe this change in weather will bring more sunshine to the U.S. economy as well.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER
As retailers consolidate and newspapers fold, the business of modeling shifts to ad agencies, apparel companies and new media.
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