Dems poised to target budgets of lower and middle income Oregonians

Sen Doug Whitsett

by Sen. Doug Whitsett

Oregon’s November quarterly economic forecast was made public last week. The report revealed that the state is continuing its slow recover from the Great Recession.

Several Democrat state elected leaders issued glowing reports suggesting that happy economic days are here again. Sadly, they may not have understood some of the more relevant parts of the report.

The latest recession hit Oregon much harder than most other states. The celebrated “recovery” has yet to even restore the number of jobs that were lost during that recession.

For instance, comparing pre-recession 2007 and current 2014 numbers:

*The total number of current Oregon jobs remains nearly 14,000 fewer than in 2007.

*Private sector employment is down nearly 17,000 jobs.

*Government sector employment has increased by about 3,000 jobs.

Only the Portland metropolitan area has registered positive job growth since 2007. Other metropolitan areas, including Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, Medford and Salem, remain about 4 percent below 2007 employment opportunity levels. Virtually all of the more rural districts outside of those six metropolitan areas remain at least eight percent below 2007 job numbers.

Even worse, Oregon’s workforce participation rate is at the lowest level since officials started keeping records in 1976. According to the Oregon Employment Department, more than two of every five Oregonians who are capable of working are currently neither working nor looking for employment.

In spite of sequential reports of economic recovery, Oregon’s workforce participation rate has continued to fall during the past four years in all but Wasco and Wheeler counties. The reductions in workforce participation are uniformly worse in all regions outside of the metropolitan areas.

Oregon’s population has increased nearly 270,000 during the seven years since the Recession began. Job creation has failed to keep pace with that population growth. Our state economy will have created no job placements for the more than a quarter of a million new Oregonians, even after job numbers are returned to pre-recession levels by the future creation of about 14,000 new jobs.

The Forecast numbers show that about 40 percent of all Oregonians are currently employed, compared to more than 46 percent who had jobs in 2007. Job growth for new high school and college graduates is specifically not keeping pace with demand.

Younger Oregonians are persistently experiencing the highest levels of joblessness. Millennial and members of “Generation X” are generally struggling to make ends meet. Nearly a quarter of the population between the ages of 18 and 25, who want to work, either cannot find jobs or can only find part-time employment.

The Forecast shows that the rate of formation of new Oregon households is reduced by nearly half since 2007. The report cites fewer jobs, poor wage growth, limited access to credit, degraded mobility, student loan debt and lower marriage rates as significant reasons that Oregonians are unable to form new households.

Oregonians’ median household income is more than $4,000, or eight percent, less than it was in 2007. Median household purchasing power has been further eroded, significantly, when adjusted for seven years of inflation.

Not surprisingly, Oregonians’ household net worth has also declined more than 40 percent during the past seven years. Reduced equity in personal residences, diminished savings and increased personal debt are the leading causes for the sharp decline in net worth.

Oregon’s overall economy is continuing its slow expansion. Economic indicators do show some acceleration of that expansion in certain metropolitan areas.

However, the employment and economic statistics make clear that most middle and lower income families are not participating in what they are being told is a broad economic recovery in Oregon. They are certainly not participating in economic growth equal to what is being recorded in many other states.

In my opinion, Oregon’s economy will not recover until any number of failed political polices are dramatically reversed. The outcome of the recent state election virtually ensures that those changes will not be made in the next four years.

In fact, many new and even more onerous labor, energy, environmental and liability policies are being queued up for passage in the 2015 Legislative session. The majority party now has the votes to enact virtually any law they choose.

Several of these new political policies will further target the budgets of lower and middle income Oregonians. Given that reality, I do not expect the bleak economic outlook for Oregon families and communities to improve into the foreseeable future.

Senator Doug Whitsett is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 28 – Klamath Falls

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Economy, Employment, Jobs, OR 78th Legislative Session | 28 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Ya Dig

    Wail, hose going to pay for the Kitz/Hayes nuptials appearing on Dem estate at yakkity-shack Mahonia Hall bling digs?

  • NAFTA Refugee

    Good article. I met a 40 something vet working at walgreens. Both kids have moved back home 23,25 with spouses in Philomath on country house/estate. Wife is disabled vet who gets check. Family depends on that money. “Kids” find part time work here and there I.e. call center work in Albany (on call/part time). My own son can only get part time retail sales work. He’s 22. I stopped work back in 2003. Developed pre-existing injury at work (according to workman’s comp doc) Tried to find other work but pain issues hold me back. Migraines. Mini strokes. SSDI denies me because HMO fails to produce objective medical evidence. Not part of their standard of care. Palliative care doesn’t address etiology.
    Wife makes ok money but works like a dog. Daughter’s in college but is racking up student debt. Nobody is getting ahead here. In fact, I think we’re all living in denial. I’m looking outside of Oregon. This is a place to retire, not for a career. I hear there’s work in South Dakota.

  • Moe

    Dems always hurt the people they say they are helping. Always.
    you can count on it….

    • guest

      Javoul! Dem Nazionales Sociopath-icle minions admik, dat das be der unmitigated vermouth to wit they drink!

  • Jack Lord God

    I remember when Oregon decided to index minimum wage to inflation. Conservatives here predicted it would hurt economic growth. Liberals predicted it would improve economic growth. Since Oregon has consistently lagged the national recovery, such as it is, I think we can all tell who was right on that one.

    Think about the national picture, virtually any place one cares to name where you find housing very expensive compared to income levels, high or accelerating wealth disparity and kids unable to afford to live where they grew up once they reach adulthood, you are very likely smack dab in the middle of an area controlled by liberal Democrats.

  • Myke

    It makes me wonder how much longer I can afford my love of Oregon. She’s like a woman who’s only with you as long as your spending money on her, never seems to give back anything in return.

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