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By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog
This Graph of the Week is an update on the Oregon spider chart. See here for more on the construction of the graph which follows the pioneering work by the Atlanta Fed at the national level. As a reminder the chart tracks progress across a wide variety of labor market indicators. As each measure improves from its recessionary trough (the red dot, 0%), the line moves outward from the center. Once the measure reaches the gray, dotted line, that indicates it has fully regained the level (or rate) last seen prior to the Great Recession. The two sentence takeaway is: Labor market leading indicators continue to improve and over the past year employer behavior has picked up nicely. However, employee confidence and utilization measures — the feel good nature of the economy — are still just about half-way back to pre-recession levels.
Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business advocate
by Betsy Earls
At first glance, the cities of Troutdale and Eugene aren’t much the same. But they have one thing in common, both are located in “home rule” counties. Nine counties in Oregon, including Lane and Multnomah, operate under home rule charters, which are written by the counties and confirmed by county voters. Oregon’s other counties are known as “general law” counties, meaning that they operate without a charter. Oregon law expressly states that, absent an agreement between parties, general law counties cannot enforce their ordinances within city limits. Home rule counties are not subject to this limitation.
The limits of home rule authority have never been well defined under Oregon law, but recent high profile issues in Troutdale and Eugene may shed some light on the question.
Housing is traditionally a very volatile sector of the economy. It tends to lead the business sector (indeed, some economists like Ed Leamer of the UCLA Forecasting Group say that housing IS the business cycle). Housing is subject to booms and busts. A case in point is the major housing boom of the early and mid 2000s, that ended up as a major bust between 2006 and 2010. The boom was marked by a huge run-up in housing prices and substantial over-building. Housing affordability fell dramatically even as the homeownership rate increased. The supply of vacant homes increased massively.
The excesses were largely eliminated in the subsequent housing bust. Affordability has increased as housing prices have fallen and mortgage loan rates are near all-time lows. The stock of vacant homes is near normal levels. Demographics look positive as well. Each year about 4 million young people reach the age of thirty, historically the typical time for first time home ownership (granted, the rate of household formation is lagging behind as many young people today are slow to venture out on their own). The rate of homeownership has declined to historical averages, after rising sharply during the housing boom.
Thousands of Oregonian and millions of American households would no longer receive door-to-door mail delivery service under legislation proposed by Representative Daryl Issa (R-CA). Instead, a growing number of households will be assigned to a local “cluster” box, where mail is distributed by U.S. postal workers to a collection of curbside mail boxes for multiple addresses. In some cases, this may mean a short walk down the street. Others may require a little more effort to retrieve mail.
The advent of the Internet and unlimited calling and text wireless plans—among other factors—have put a major budgetary strain on the United States Postal Service (USPS) in recent years. In 2013 alone, the service had a $5 billion deficit—part of a projected long-term trend unless reform is implemented to make the USPS more streamlined and cost effective.
America might be back to pre-Great Recession levels in terms of total number of jobs, but what kind of jobs are they? A new study from the US Conference of Mayors and IHS Global Insight gives the discouraging news:
In 2008 and 2009 the US economy lost 8.7 million jobs. By examining the sectors from which the jobs were lost, most notably manufacturing and construction, we find that the average annual wage in sectors (current wages weighted by number of jobs) where jobs were lost in the downturn was $61,637. A similar accounting of the jobs gains through 2014 q2 shows average wages of $47,171 per year.
This wage gap, at 23%, is significantly larger than that of the earlier recession and recovery, and implies $93 billion in lower wage income. Extensive job losses in high-wage manufacturing ($63K) and construction ($58K) sectors were replaced by jobs in the lower wage sectors of hospitality ($21K), health care ($47K), and administrative support ($37K).
By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog
Besides just stronger national growth, another way for top line U.S. job figures to improve is for more states or regions to share in the recovery. Back in December I noted that the Northeast and Midwest were growing much faster than their housing boom rates, while the South and West were lagging (in particular given low population growth and the housing bust). Expectations were that the South and West would accelerate moving forward, but in order for national figures to improve the Northeast and Midwest would need to hold onto those stronger rates of growth. So how are things looking today? Well, the acceleration has come along the West Coast and in the South but much of the Northeast and Midwest has slowed down. Map of Census Regions and Divisions.
Seattle is the center of one of the airline industry’s biggest turf wars, and the ultimate victor may be Northwest business travelers, both domestic and international.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has long been a hub for Alaska Airlines, which currently runs 253 flights out of Seattle daily to 79 different locations in North America. But Delta Airlines has been aggressively expanding its Seattle operation, and is now the number two carrier in the market. In May of this year, the worlds’ second largest airline announced it will add several new destinations from Seattle—Spokane, Calgary, Alberta, Maui, Bozeman, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. By 2017, Delta plans to offer more than 150 daily flights from Seattle to compete for business.
Oregon Law Firm
Cheaters Never Win—Or At Least They Shouldn’t:
New Executive Order Requires Mea Culpa of Federal Contractors with Recent Labor Law Violations
On July 31st, President Obama brushed aside threats of impeachment and passed yet another executive order, titled “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces.” The executive order requires companies seeking more than $500,000 in federal contracts to disclose labor law violations from the last three years before they are awarded a contract. Federal contractors must also collect the same information from many of their subcontractors.
Citing an unfair competitive advantage for those repeat offenders of labor laws, the new executive order puts pressure on the most egregious violators to clean up their acts or risk losing out on lucrative government contracts. For now, contracting officers have been directed to crack down on repeat offenders, and to provide guidance for minor violations to increase compliance.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and 41 other state Attorneys General reached a $35 million settlement with Pfizer Inc, the parent company of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., to resolve allegations that Wyeth promoted immunosuppressive drug Rapamune for off-label uses. As one of two lead states in the settlement, Oregon will receive $1.2 million for its consumer protection and education account.
“This settlement sends a united message that large pharmaceutical companies cannot promote off-label drug for uses that haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “Oregon continues to be a national leader in fighting these bad marketing practices by large companies that know better than to try to skirt regulations, thereby putting consumers at risk.”
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