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Jobs Watch: The power of negative thinking

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Ben Jacklet
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The latest numbers show that Oregon has lost 124,300 jobs since I took this job in December of 2007. Clearly my writing is not good for the state’s economy. So forgive me if I dispense with the cheerleading and point out a few observations that give me reason for concern.

It starts with the banks. Lake Oswego-headquartered West Coast Bank is the latest to receive an ominously worded “cease and desist” order from the FDIC. That makes three important regional banks struggling for survival, if you add Columbia River Bank of The Dalles and Bank of the Cascades in Bend. Plus the complex situation of ShoreBank Pacific, which is wholly owned by a holding company operating under a cease and desist order of its own. These banks have to improve their capital positions or else, and that means they will be more reluctant to loan than ever.

Then there’s retail. Is it me or is the premature Christmas glitter looking even more desperate than usual this season? I realize that retail drives the economy, 70% of which is based on consumer spending. But is it really the duty of every American to purchase all the world’s plastic junk? Consumers lack confidence for a reason. With so many companies cutting costs, salaries and jobs, how much longer can consumers be expected to over-spend?

Next, there’s politics. I don’t like to write about politics, so I will keep it brief. The revived effort to kick Sam Adams out of office is not helpful. Can we please move past this?

Finally, there is my own profession, journalism. The latest circulation figures show that the Oregonian’s 12% drop was actually good compared to some of its peers. That is pathetic. The nation has lost thousands of journalism jobs over the past year, a trend that is bad for democracy as well as the economy. Does anyone really believe that citizen journalists will fill the gap by breaking stories about the CIA’s payments to Hamid Karzai’s drug-dealing brother? I don’t see that happening. It’s one thing to overhear a political blunder and blog it out, and quite another to dig up unpleasant truths about people in power.

Forgive my pessimism. Perhaps if the Dow would pop over 10,000 and stay there for, say, three days in a row, I would get over it.

Besides, the evidence would seem to indicate that the the relationship between the optimistic tone of previous Jobs Watch posts and actual gains in the state economy is inversely proportional. Perhaps the same will hold true in reverse.


Marc Rocque
0 #1 Mr.Marc Rocque 2009-10-28 12:23:20
With all of these troubles, we still get information like this: an employee of the Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife contesting a dredging operation already in progress for the Port of Toledo to the point of getting a "cease and desist" order enforced when the weeks long project was within hours of being completed. This has no doubt cost hundreds of thousands of needless dollars, and left the businesses at the port "high and dry" in every sense of the word. When will government become accountable?
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Rick Creson
0 #2 Sucks For You!!Rick Creson 2009-10-28 12:37:16
As you contemplate your "ain't it awful" position, just think how much better it would be if you "journalists" would get on the business bandwagon and actually start supporting "business done right"? Maybe you should start talking it up relative to "politics" and make some significant noise relative to how Oregon Politics is adding to the economic problems, rather than the solutions to the State's current economic position! Oh, but that isn't politically correct! Since Business "is" the driver of any economy, why not object to anything that gets in the way of Business progress (maybe tax increases for instance)? Also, why don't you talk it up relative to Oregon's deplorable attempt at attracting new business or their practice at taxing the sale of any business resident in the State? There are so many things wrong with the direction of the State, but so few, like you, who want to really address the problems with the objective of actually "changing" the way the State treats businesses. So, my guess is that you feel so awful because like most Journalist, you really don't want to get deeply involved and point out what might be Capitalistic in nature. Until you and others do, very little will improve. Sooner or later, all of you will wonder why Oregon, from a business perspective, gets smaller and smaller every year.
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Ben J
0 #3 Not for meBen J 2009-10-28 17:01:27
First journalists get "quotation marks," then Capitalization. What's next, ALL CAPS?
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