Sponsored by Oregon Business

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

Are wolves good for business?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 06, 2015
030615-wolf-thumbBY JEFF DELKIN | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

As a local business owner, I believe it’s important to build our economy on a platform of conservation values.  


Read more...

How Oregon will survive the loss of Hanjin

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT | OB CONTRIBUTOR

"Shipping containers to Portland is like waiting for a bus that travels once a day."


Read more...

Car Talk

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Everyone knows cell phones and driving are a lethal combination. The risk is especially high for teenage drivers, whose delusions of immortality pose such a threat to us all. Enforcement alas, remains feeble; more promising are pedagogical approaches aimed at getting people to focus on the road, not their devices.


Read more...

Downtown flower shop readies for the Valentine's Day rush

The Latest
Monday, February 09, 2015
021015-giffords-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Gifford's Flowers brings family approach to PSU-area shop.


Read more...

The Road to Reinvention

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Damian Smith bets on changing himself — and Portland — through consulting.


Read more...

5 schools helping students crack code

The Latest
Thursday, January 29, 2015
codeduthumbnailBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As the costs of college mount, and as employer demand for software developers soars, coding schools and classes are popping up everywhere.


Read more...

That's Not a Watch (This Is a Watch)

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smartwatches are all the rage. But old-fashioned timepieces keep on ticking.


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