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

Intrepid reporter checks out ZoomCare rebrand

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
dentistthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Like all good journalists, OB editorial staff typically eschew freebies. But health care costs being what they are, digital news editor Jacob Palmer couldn't resist ZoomCare's offer of a three-in-one (cleaning, exam, whitening) dental office visit, guaranteed to take no more than 57 minutes. 


Read more...

Green workplace 2.0

Linda Baker
Thursday, May 28, 2015
IMG 2808BY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

Reinventing capitalism. Office dumpster divers. Handprints versus carbon footprints. These are some of the ideas panelists and attendees discussed during the second annual Oregon Business “Green Your Workplace” seminar yesterday.


Read more...

6 development projects reshaping Bend

The Latest
Thursday, April 09, 2015
bendthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Bend has reclaimed its prerecession title as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.


Read more...

Hall of Flame

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

A Power Lunch at Oswego Grill.


Read more...

Shades of Gray

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Are we too quick to diagnose corruption?


Read more...

The ancient fish that stops bullets

The Latest
Friday, May 08, 2015
hagfishthumbBY CHRIS NOBLE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Hagfish may not have evolved much over the last 300 million years, but their protein-heavy slime promises advances in super-materials.


Read more...

Nine lives

Linda Baker
Friday, May 22, 2015
0f4f7bfBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

Roy Kaufmann always lands on his feet.


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