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|Articles - November/December 2013|
|Monday, October 28, 2013|
INTERVIEW BY LINDA BAKER
This fall, as Oregon’s economic engine continued to gather steam, Oregon Business spoke with state economist Mark McMullen about the short- and long-term outlook. A former director of consulting at Moody’s Analytics, McMullen weighed in on the decline in middle-wage jobs, the shift from consumer to business demand and ongoing risks to the economy from abroad.
THE RECOVERY. “We are seeing job growth accelerate this year. Unfortunately, while we are seeing this recovery in employment and income, we’re seeing big chunks of the workforce and economy miss out. That’s why it’s not very satisfying on the ground level.”
LEFT OUT. “For folks unemployed for less than six months, job conditions have normalized. But that’s not true for folks unemployed more than six months. We still have a big chunk of those folks. If we’re sitting at total unemployed at 8%, 5% are the short-term unemployed and three percentage points are the long-term unemployed. We have seen this come down somewhat, but it’s above what we’ve seen in past recessions.”
THE VANISHING MIDDLE. “Jobs between $25,000 and $50,000 are the ones getting hit harder. All significant job growth is either in low-wage or high-wage jobs. Some of this is irreversible — administrative support and sales jobs are under assault from technological change — some is cyclical. Housing took a very hard hit during the recession. We would expect some of these jobs to come back. But long term, we have more and more bifurcated job growth. This has implications for upward mobility.”
RURAL VS. URBAN. “For the past three to four years, rural Oregon’s employment rate has flatlined. Rural economies are disproportionately dependent on construction and real estate jobs because they don’t have particularly diverse economies. They don’t have advertising agencies or ballet dancers to offset construction or to diversify. But as we finally see a turnaround in housing, Southern Oregon, Bend, Central Oregon — these places are starting to see an uptick.”
THE NEXT CYCLE. “It’s going to be led by exporters and procurers of goods rather than producers of consumer services. Every decade since WWII, we’ve seen the American consumer spend faster than overall GDP. This is the first decade when that flips. Investments in exports are going to grow faster, largely because the baby-boom cohort has to save more. That’s going to broadly slow down spending. Technology producers and exports serve business investment demand rather than consumer demand. It will have some implications in terms of how much growth we’re getting out of consumer services and retail.”
SHRINKING REVENUE. “As we lose productive workers to retirement, it’s going to lower the effectiveness of all tax instruments. So it will be tough to sustain enough revenue to grow our programs. It all comes back to the demographic changes we’re seeing and the savings behavior. We’re going to have to see more saving. During the peak of the housing boom, only the wealthiest one or two percent were saving. The rest of us were spending more than we were bringing in. On top of that, Grandma and Grandpa don’t buy a lot of cars and sofas, which is certainly going to have implications going forward.”
LABOR POOL. “The labor force with this aging population is a big concern. In the ’70s, we had wonderful labor growth and we were getting huge increases in economic capacity. In the ’80s and ’90s, we were still seeing a lot of labor-force growth and a lot of people coming from other states. But those participation gains started playing themselves out. Now we have less participation, largely because all these productive baby boomers [are] dropping out of the labor force, and population growth has slowed. So don’t expect the growth rates we have become accustomed to in past periods of economic expansion.”
FUTURE SHOCK. “There are two major risks in terms of near-term derailing economic expansion. One dysfunction is at the government level. The second is problems abroad. The European situation is well documented but still has not been settled. More important for Oregon is a potential slowdown in China. We have become very connected to Asia, much more so than we were 20 years ago when we had the Asian financial crisis hit our region. Nowadays, if something similar happened in China, it would be a much more painful event.”
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
There are more than 10 million former military members working in the United States.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR
An earthquake would completely destroy many Oregon businesses, highlighting the urgent need for the private and public sectors to collaborate on shoring up disaster preparedness, said panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast summit today.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
A conversation with Gene Pelham, CEO of Rogue Credit Union.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
New Jersey and Oregon are the only two states in the U.S. that ban self serve gas stations. But these two holdouts may be ready to give up the game. New Jersey is considering legislation that would lift the state's ban on pumping your own gas. Oregon is considering smaller scale changes.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.
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Tonkon Torp helps seed sustainability at Gunderson.
Oregon-based Environments helps companies create inspired workspaces. “Simply put, we help companies future-proof their workspaces,” says Chris Corrado, president. Since 1988,Environments has witnessed firsthand the changing landscape of business. Native Portlander and Environments founder Corrado says, “We help our clients navigate the complex realities of the workplace today and plan for their future in a very mindful, strategic way. We think of ourselves as their partners in the process.”
One hundred years ago, the Willamette River might easily have been mistaken for a sewer. Unchecked industrial activity and decades of pollution made it unrecognizable compared to the clean river that now flows north for 187 miles from Eugene through the center of Portland.
3 Degrees Event Celebrates 5th Year Bringing Nonprofit and Business Professionals Together to Benefit Portland.
Bend energy leader brings passion for efficiency and renewable energy to the nonprofit.
Event in Forest Grove marks recognition of Global Food Safety Initiative Certification.