Oregon Economy: Some Ups, Some Downs

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The good news (for conservatives) is that Oregon lost public-sector jobs in the third quarter of 2010. The bad news for the Oregon economy is that Oregon lost public-sector jobs in the third quarter.

In his quarterly report to the legislature today, State Economist Tom Potiowsky said a slight increase in private-sector jobs during the third quarter of 2010 was offset by a decrease in public-sector jobs. The net result was that the state’s unemployment rate stayed at 10.5% – which is where it’s been stuck for a year.

The continuing layoffs of temporary census workers and declining employment in local education systems were big factors in the drop in public-sector jobs.

“On a year-over-year basis, jobs decreased in the third quarter by 0.4%, a considerable improvement from the 5.5% year-over-year decline in the third quarter of last year,” Potiowsky’s report said. “Of course, it’s difficult to take comfort in the fact that jobs are still down compared to last year.”

Potiowsky thinks the job picture is likely to get better in 2011 – but not much. “The outlook for job growth … is mildly positive at 0.9% percent in 2011, with modest job gains beginning in the second quarter through the end of the year,” said a news release from his office. The economist predicted that the state’s economy “will not see job growth above 2% until the fourth quarter of 2011.”

Revenue-wise, things are looking up for Oregon, according to Potiowsky’s report.

“Corporate profits, and associated tax collections, have risen rapidly throughout the past year,” the economist said. “The corporate income tax forecast for the biennium as a whole is now $23.6 million above the Close of [Legislative] Session forecast.” Also, “[t]he forecast for total personal income tax receipts during the current biennium went up $97.7 million from the September forecast.”

Potiowsky also cited Intel’s planned multibillion-dollar expansion in Oregon as “a needed boost” to the state’s economy. “Construction jobs are estimated in the thousands and permanent high tech jobs in the hundreds,” he wrote. “Although this impact is not huge for the state as a whole in terms of jobs, the more lasting influence is re-establishing the Portland metro area as a center for high tech research and a statement that Oregon is a strong state to do business.”

The Intel expansion and the rise in corporate profits and tax revenues look like further evidence that the predicted stampede of businesses out of Oregon in the wake of Measures 66 and 67 hasn’t happened. Sorry to keep belaboring the point, but it apparently hasn’t sunk in with some people yet.


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