Southern Oregon Business Conference

Tim Duy, University of Oregon economist: We’re not going to see a cratering in economic growth in 2014, it will be better.

Not seeing runaway federal spending. Government spending, relative to the size of economy, has been shrinking. We’ve seen a tax increase and then a fiscal contraction. That will lessen this year.

No expectation of interest rate going up  in 2014; if growth expands rapidly then it might.

That would be a good thing, because we’d be on positive track.

Tightening periods in late 1980s, mid-1990s, around 2000 and then late 2000s. Recession happened three out of the four times.

The wildcard, Duy says, is global financial turmoil, emerging markets were too loose, currencies too weak to start with. As result, people pulling money out of those markets. The upshot is global monetary tightening, which could weigh on export activities.

When it comes to Oregon. Indicators follow national indicators.

Manufacturing firms surviving recession have done well, pushing labor to the limit. Eventually they will have to expand capacity and hiring.

Numbers tell me we’re not going to have a recession any time soon. Certainly not super-heated growth.

What sectors have benefited?

Professional business services — consulting and management to architects and lawyers — have surpassed levels prior to recession. Construction is beginning to recover.

Overall my models come pretty close to state forecast, Duy said.

Locally, unemployment steadily declining, but not really dropping off.

Not seeing building permits rising in Medford, and labor force isn’t growing.

The general picture is that we are moving the right direction, more so in recent years. You have to start somewhere.

County and municipal money managers aren’t seeing new revenue from construction around the state.

Housing: Generally, we’re off the bottom and that’s good for household finances.

We’ve bounced back since the beginning of 2013. Compared to other regions, we’re close to Salem. Portland has bounced back way ahead of the rest of the state.

Labor force, we have a good in migration to add to our workforce. Lately, we haven’t been getting that.

Once we can leap up in migration that will serve as a new milestone in recovery.

Leisure and hospitality: We’ve been able to leverage off travel and tourism in the state, reassuring seen this kind of opportunity, When budgets are tight, consumers still willing to travel.

Manufacturing: Very few markets have rebounded manufacturing job losses like Medford. In contrast to other kinds of jobs, manufacturing has provided good paying jobs. It’s a feather in the cap.

Reason why it looks like we’re lagging growth. The model is built on steady and strong growth in recent years. A vibrant construction industry supports other parts of the economy

Not just here, but across Oregon, we’re seeing an inflated normal standard from high-growth periods. Slowdown in population growth has kept the economic numbers register as we expect them.

In summary: It’s pretty evident the region has seen positive growth, but we’re still affected by slowdown in population growth.

Question on minimum wage: Given we have a hard time finding the answer to it, the negative impacts will be relatively small. Oregon’s minimum wage is still well above the national minimum wage. Bringing up everyone to Oregon’s standards would reduce a comparative disadvantage. Oregon and Washington have high minimum wage would argue little impact on macro-economic scale.

Broader policy? Given tools we have seems to be a pretty good thing.

Purchasing power: We’ve seen a dispersion away from middle-wage jobs to high and low. That problem is more pronounced for rural areas, where most of new jobs are lower end of pay scale.

This region has not felt for a number of years buffeting of cycles. Woodproduct companies were hit cyclically

What’s Ron Wyden’s biggest opportunity as chair of Senate Finance Committee? The ongoing problem, what is the state of play for financial regulation. The concerns we still have over the financial crisis the past several years, how do we prevent that and provide opportunity for capital.

 

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    Greg Stiles

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