The 2013 Legislative Session is half over and, with the exception of the small progress made toward approving the reconstruction of the I-5 Columbia River Bridge, there has been no significant legislation to help Oregon be more attractive to job-creating businesses.
Here’s a status report on Oregon’s economy:
- Nearly 1 in 5 Oregon families is receiving Food Stamps.
- Oregon’s personal income trails by 9 percent the national average for urban areas and 6 percent in non-urban areas.
- Oregon’s average wages are $6,500 lower than the average wages in Washington.
- Jackson, Josephine and other rural counties have suffered double-digit unemployment rates for years. There will be no path to prosperity without a change in attitudes relating to management of and access to Oregon’s natural resources.
- Oregon’s unemployment rate stands at 8.4 percent, substantially higher than the 7.7 percent national average.
- 173,000 Oregonians were unemployed in 2012, plus another 140,000 were underemployed. Together Oregon’s real unemployment/underemployment rate was 17.2 percent.
- Oregon PERS Tier 1 costs are increasing by $2 billion from 2011-15 and Legislative leaders refuse to do more than tinker with PERS reforms and kick the can down the road. Future Legislatures will be left with an even greater problem.
Repeatedly, I am frustrated by the lack of vision and courage to meaningfully address Oregon’s economic problems.
Oregon’s urban voters elected the Democratic majority in the House and Senate. As a result, rural Oregon continues to languish in recession. The failure to address Oregon’s lackluster economy is astounding.