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Getting down to work

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Articles - November 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010

This month's Input survey asked readers their opinion on what it would take to kick-start the state’s economy. The options we listed were a variety of suggestions drawn from all sides of the political spectrum, ranging from reducing business taxes to fostering green jobs.

You can see for yourself what ranks highest and lowest among the 704 respondents, but the thing that struck me about the results is how even the lowest-ranking idea (focus on green technology) had a combined 57% of our readers saying it could be very effective or somewhat effective.

What this tells me is that we’re ready to consider almost anything to get out of this economic pit.

As I was putting this column together, the latest data from the University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators was released. The data suggested that Oregon could lose rather than gain jobs in the next three to six months. In a state where the average unemployment rate is around 10.6% and where everyone I know has been betting — hoping — that this year would be better than last year, that is a devastating bit of news. Nationally, The New York Times has reported that at the current rate of job creation, the U.S. would need nine more years to recapture the jobs lost during the recession, and that doesn’t account for the 5 million or 6 million jobs needed in that time to keep pace with population growth.

How many of you know someone out of work, or have someone in your own family who can’t find a job? How many of you sat next to a colleague that was fired? How many of you have had to downsize your business to keep the doors open?  No one has gone untouched by this so-called jobless recovery.

Going another week without job recovery would be bad enough. But six months seems almost too much to grasp in a state where some areas like Harney County have 16% unemployent.

So the jobs promise is something everyone from politicians to businesses makes because they know how it resonates with voters. This month’s cover story by managing editor Ben Jacklet on Oregon’s casino economy is a case in point. From tribes to private business to the state, everyone wants a piece of the lucrative gambling action and they all promise jobs in their bids to get it or keep it. But that doesn’t make the casino measure on the November ballot the most important item.

On Nov. 2. Oregonians will elect a new governor, decide on their U.S. senator and select congressional representatives in five districts. Those are just the statewide races. There are also dozens and dozens of city, county and state races that will be decided. I agree that these elections will be about jobs. Right, left or in the middle, vote for the candidate who you think has a clear vision on how to help get the economy in Oregon rolling again. Then on Nov. 3, hold them to it.

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Robin Doussard
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