Northwest fundamentals ahead of nation's

| Print |  Email
Archives - July 2007
Sunday, July 01, 2007
0707MarplesChart.gif

Quick, what do the Boeing 787, cheap electricity, Microsoft’s Vista operating system, high-priced oil, the weak dollar and solar-grade polysilicon have in common?

Answer: All help keep the Pacific Northwest economy humming along at a relatively brisk clip. The region finds itself happily out of step with weak U.S. economic fundamentals. 

The U.S. economy has slowed dramatically.  First-quarter GDP growth (1.3%) was the slowest in four years. Yet parts of the Pacific Northwest are flat-out booming.  Montana had the nation’s lowest March unemployment rate (2.0%), and its boom has spread to all sectors of its economy. Part of the credit goes to rising standards of living in “Chindia” — China and India. Rising global demand for raw materials including copper has reinvigorated Montana’s economy.

Most areas in the region not booming are growing at rates well above the U.S. average. The region’s relative prosperity is widespread geographically, as shown in the chart.  (The Seattle area comprises three counties and includes Tacoma and Everett, the Portland area seven counties, including five in Oregon and two in Washington.)

Evidence of the region’s strength is not hard to find. Payroll employment in Idaho in 2006 grew at more than twice the national average.  Idaho’s 2.8% March unemployment rate was the lowest in at least 30 years.

Montana and Idaho are essentially at full employment. Because wages are relatively low in both Montana and Idaho, neither state is pulling in a lot of working-age migrants (as opposed to retirees). Growth in both states may be hampered in the future by slow-growing labor forces.

In Washington, Oregon and Montana, payrolls last year grew roughly 50% faster than average. Unemployment in Washington is also at the lowest in more than 30 years.

Among the five states we track closely, only Alaska turned in sub-par 2006 payroll growth. But don’t fret over Alaska’s economy. The Last Frontier state is an enormous beneficiary of high oil prices and is on track for its 20th consecutive year of employment growth. Job growth slowed considerably in the first quarter in Washington and Idaho. Oregon has slowed even more; it currently grows at only half the 3.0%-plus it averaged during most of 2006.  Yet all three continue to grow employment at above-average rates.

— Excerpted from Marple’s Pacific Northwest Letter, editor Michael Parks. For information about this biweekly report on Northwest economic trends, visit www.marples.com.

 

More Articles

Corner Office: Steve Tatone

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits about the president and CEO of AKT Group.


Read more...

Corner Office: Sheree Arntson

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Checking in with the managing director of Arnerich Massena.


Read more...

Corner Office: Marv LaPorte

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

The president of LaPorte & Associates lets us in on his day-to-day life.


Read more...

Transportation Fairness Alliance holds demonstration in Pioneer Square

The Latest
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
IMG 3367BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland's cab companies urged city hall for consideration as officials weigh new rules for Uber and other ridesharing companies.


Read more...

The short list: Holiday habits of six Oregon CEOs

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014
121214-xmaslist1BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask business and nonprofit leaders how they survive the season.


Read more...

Will Medford Ever Be Cool?

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.


Read more...

Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER

Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS