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$50 Million Unemployment Fund Raid Gets Derailed

June 30, 2009 --

By J.L. Wilson – 6/26/09
Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business lobby

The legislature earlier this week abandoned Governor Ted Kulongoski’s proposal to siphon $50 million from the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund to fund a temporary summer jobs program. As late as last week, it appeared that AOI was facing long odds in defeating the proposal, which was embedded in House Bill 3500. AOI was told last week that a deal had been struck that paved the way for the legislature to pass HB 3500, which included both a $30 million emergency unemployment benefits extension as well as the $50 million raid on the state’s Unemployment fund.

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Oregon Index: Signs of stability

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Timothy Duy
Director, Oregon Economic Forum

The UO Index fell slightly in May, down 0.1 percentage points.  The relative stability over the past three months, however, is a welcome relief after many months of steady decline and is consistent with a recent pattern of economic stabilization, both state and nationwide.  Highlights include:

•    Initial jobless claims edged downward, but remain at high levels.  Ongoing high levels of initial claims would be consistent with the “jobless recovery” scenario, in which economic growth is insufficient to generate net positive job growth.
•    Residential housing permits continue to decline, more evidence that the housing recovery – or even stabilization – remains elusive.  High unemployment and tighter credit continue to weigh on the sector.
•    New orders for core manufactured goods jumped, an indication that firms are no longer cutting investment spending.  If this trend is sustained, it would feed through to stabilizing and eventually stronger manufacturing activity in Oregon in the months ahead.
•    The pace of economic deterioration has slowed markedly, and while the Oregon economy likely remains in recession in May, the improvement in the 6 month annualized change in the UO Index is consistent with the recession (period of negative growth) ending in the second half of 2009.  Without a clear upward turn in the UO Index itself, it would be premature, however, to decisively declare that the recession has ended.

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Home Prices and Consumer Spending

June 29, 2009 --

By Bill Conerly, Conerly Consulting LLC, Businomics

Some friends have been debating the role of housing prices in consumer spending, stimulated by two recent articles in the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog.  First, Charles Calomiris, Stanley Longhofer and William Miles wrote that effect of housing wealth on consumption is about zero.  Then, Atif Mian and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago offered a differing view.

I am very cautious before throwing out conclusions that have been tested in multiple ways over many years.  The wealth effect on consumption has been studied since the 1930s, with fairly consistent findings of low elasticity (one to three percent is common). 

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Two Industries Capture Bulk of Teen Workers

June 28, 2009 --

by Brooke Jackson-Winegardner
Oregon Employment Department

Teens looking for work face tough prospects during this summer’s hiring season. Not only are there fewer jobs available because of the current recession, but there is also a host of skilled, experienced older workers flocking to fill any job opening that comes up, thereby wedging out many prospective young workers. Nevertheless, many Oregon teens will still venture into the employment world this summer in hopes of earning a little extra pocket money, saving for college, or perhaps just to keep busy.

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Oregon State Chamber to Distribute Free Drug Cards

June 27, 2009 --

Chambers to Help Oregon Rx Card Provide Prescription Assistance to All Residents
By Oregon State Chamber of Commerce

The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC) announced a new partnership with the Oregon Rx Card today. The goal of the joint venture is to provide all Oregon residents with prescription assistance. OSCC will encourage local chambers of commerce, across the State, to distribute free discount prescription drug cards to residents. All Oregon residents are eligible for this program.

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Oregon Businesses Opposes Effort to Confuse Voter Referendums

June 26, 2009 --

Oregon voters, like legislators, should have the right to simply vote “yes” or “no”
By Alliance of Oregon’s Business Associations,

Each member of the Alliance supports Oregon’s Initiative and Referendum Process. While each of our organizations has won and lost our fair share of elections, we are steadfast in our belief that the check and balance provided through our initiative and referendum process should not be confused through legislative action.

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Spending +.3%, Savings rate highest in 15 years.

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Wall Street Journal reported today, “The income of Americans soared in May because of the government’s economic stimulus, leading them to increase spending modestly and boost the saving rate to the highest in 15 years. Personal income rose at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.4% compared to the month before, the Commerce Department said Friday. The jump reflected reduced taxes and increased social benefit payments unleashed by the stimulus package. Consumer spending, or personal consumption, rose 0.3% compared to the month before.”

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Laptops outsell PC for first time. PC sales -7%

June 25, 2009 --

PC sales growth down, laptops rise
By Oregon Small Business Association,

PC sales growth in the U.S. continues to take a beating at the hands of the economic recession.  Yet, one glimmer of hope remains:  laptop computers.  Dell Computer recently announced declining quarterly profit and revenue results.  Hewlett-Packard also announced similar weak results.  And Intel’s four-quarter long growth streak has ended with the world’s largest chipmaker seeing a decline in both sales and market share. Shipments of PCs during the first quarter were down 7.1 percent from a year ago, according to the research firm IDC.  And it may not be totally behind us: IDC is predicting roughly 8 percent declines in growth for the second quarter.

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Top 10 vehicle brands ranked by quality

Discrimination Claims on the Rise

June 24, 2009 --

By Mimi Henninger, SPHR,
Senior Human Resources Consultant

AmeriBen/IEC Group Exlporer,

According to recent statistics released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), overall discrimination claims rose 15% in 2008 from 2007. One reason for an increase in discrimination claims is that more people are being laid off from their jobs. A certain percentage of affected employees will file discrimination claims.

Interestingly, age discrimination claims rose at a much higher rate (29%) over the same period. Employers may unintentionally be targeting older workers for several reasons. There may be a desire to layoff the more highly-compensated employees in order to cut costs. This can have a greater impact on older workers. Older workers also have a harder time finding a new job. This gives them more time to dwell on the situation and focus on filing a discrimination claim rather than moving on to a new job and a new employer.

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