Southern Oregon Economic Summit

Josh Lehner, senior economist with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, is up next.

State of Oregon is in expansion, outlook starting to improve.
Weights have been housing and government.
Housing last two years picked up, supporting growth. Cutbacks starting to stabilize and K-12 appears to be through laying off children.
Starting to see job growth across state, but slower than what have seen. 3% percent job growth is what used to see, it’s been closer to 2%

Leading indicators showing expansion. We remain state that produces items, chips up north and mills down in Southern Oregon are humming. Unemployment moving slowly in the proper direction.

Household balance sheets are improving: Debt for auto, credit card and mortgages is declining. The silver lining of losing house is that you lose the debt. Still higher ratio vs. the nation.

Jackson County mirrors the state, Southern Oregon has improved during recent years.
As population grows so does government hiring.

During 2010-11, Portland had job growth, rest of state didn’t. Now the rest is showing some growth. Portland had 90 percent of the job growth during that period; now it’s about two-thirds.
Two years ago the biannual forecast showed recovery, but not down here. Now it’s spreading south and east.
Long-term joblessness continues to be an issue in Oregon. There are 90,000 Oregonians who have been out of work six months or longer. Less than six weeks, the level is about 100,000.
State of Oregon has benefited from inward migration. Across the country there has been a mild return to employment; it’s one of the main channels of risk, Lehner said.
If there is labor force participation then we can get down to 3-4 percent unemployment.
Private sector growth is expected to climb rapidly through 2015. We think we can get 2.6 percent growth, relatively to what we’ve seen.
Nobody is raising expectation for economy, but share of risk is weighted to the upside, involving building activity.
If consumer is more confident in personal situation, they will spend a little more money.
Southern Oregon outperformed state of Oregon in employment in much of the past 35 years. But when the housing bubble burst, the region fell behind the north of the state.
Recession is worst since the Great Depression. In the early 1980s high mortgage rates coupled with older mills finishing their life cycle. Southern Pine and Canadian logs also challenged Oregon wood products companies.

Southern Oregon much stronger gains than shown in the monthly from the state employment releases.
Since early 2012 job growth picked up. We lost 14 percent of our jobs, and have regained many of those jobs.
Single-family residence permits are up 40 percent here and the rest of the state.
Jackson County’s population growth and housing permit growth are closely connected.

Historically in migration has accounted for two-thirds of Oregon population growth and that figure is growing.
In Jackson County, growth without in migration will be negative.
On West Coast we have northern migration, Californians to Oregon and Oregonians to Washington.
In Jackson County, we’re dependent on California migration. We lose just a little of population here to other states. Intel and Nike drive job growth and attract population growth.
The flows are down, but the patterns have stayed the same because of the lackluster economic environment.
State of Oregon used to have 80,000 timber workers, providing 13% of GPD and paid way behind state median level. Now we’re down to 20,000-25,000. Maybe a little more, but automation remains pronounced. Not going to get back to 80,000, but would add jobs if logged at previous levels.

No job gains within the past decade in Jackson and Josephine counties. Professional services and health care are primary job developers.
Southern Oregon has done a better job of redeveloping jobs than some places.
Return of migration will be good for the Southern Oregon economy. Housing and manufacturing are picking up. The service sector is going to be where most of growth is.
On the flip side, the labor force is aging and participation will create a drag. Local governments will have a hard time replacing timber receipts.
It’s a big challenge and will restrain growth, at least in the short term.

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    Greg Stiles

    Covering the Southern Oregon business and economy since 2001. Read Full
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