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PDX downtown: 5,000 jobs lost, government jobs rise

August 31, 2009 --

Downtown Portland sees decline in jobs,
Continued positive feelings on safety, cleanliness

By Portland Business Alliance,

Business Census and Survey also shows spike in mass transit commuting Portland, Ore. – Signs of the country’s economic downturn are evident throughout the Central City, according to the results of the Portland Business Alliance’s annual Downtown Business Census and Survey. The survey showed a significant drop in jobs as well as a decline in the number of businesses expecting to expand over the next few years.

In the annual survey, which counts jobs in the I-5/I-405 corridor, the Alliance found that the total number of people employed in the Central City fell from 86,000 in 2007 to fewer than 83,000 in 2008. Also, government-related entities now account for half of the top 10 employers in the downtown core.

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Survey: Americans happy at work — especially women, seniors

August 30, 2009 --

Despite Tough Economy, Most Americans Happy on the Job, National Survey Finds
But national survey finds job-satisfaction level sees sharp decline from 2008

RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 27, 2009 – Americans are happy at work, just not as happy as they used to be. According to a just-released national survey – the third annual Labor Happiness Index – more than half of the U.S. workforce (58%) says they are happy on the job, but that figure is down 7 percentage points, a significant drop from 2008.  The survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, polled more than 1,000 salaried and hourly employees across the country.

“Even as we continue to face layoffs and other corporate cutbacks, the majority of the American workforce remains upbeat about their jobs,” said Shawn Boyer, founder and CEO of “But on the whole, we’re not as happy. Ongoing anxiety about the economy may well be chipping away at the happiness level.”

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Oil Price Forecast for 2010

August 29, 2009 --

By Bill Conerly, Businomics, Conerly Consulting

Oil prices rose as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke offered positive thoughts about the economy.  Does a strengthening world economy mean higher oil prices in 2010?  Not so fast, Bucky.

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Chart: National Average Mortgage Rates

Oregon workweek hours rebounds to 37.9 average

August 28, 2009 --

Oregon’s Workweek Partially Rebounds
by David Cooke
Oregon Employment Department

A closely watched measure of state economic activity is average weekly hours for manufacturing production workers. This monthly indicator has been available for Oregon for many years. The measure was close to 40 hours per week in early 2008 but then dropped rapidly as the recession took hold. Its low point was reached in March 2009 at 35.5 hours per week, which was by far the lowest reading in more than seven years.

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New data says Oregon approaching bottom of recession


GOOD NEWS: New jobless shrinks, building permits up,  and Tourism is up (lodging and Air travel)
Payroll declines, Home sales drop,

By Timothy Duy
Director, Oregon Economic Forum
University of Oregon

The LCBI declined 1.7% in the second quarter of 2009, the eighth consecutive quarter of deterioration.  The pace of deterioration, however, slowed notably, setting the stage for firmer activity in the second half of this year.  Highlights of the LCBI include:

– The labor market remained weak. Although initial unemployment claims continued to decline, indicating a slower pace of layoff, the demand for new hours was anemic.  Nonfarm payrolls continued to decline.

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The Economics behind Portland and Baseball

August 27, 2009 --

By Patrick Emerson
Oregon Economics Blog

I came across an interesting post on the Portland Architecture Blog (where I indulge my fantasy life as an architect) which muses whether Portland has grown beyond the minor leagues. The idea, in essence, is that Portlanders are no longer in minor league sports because we have become a major league city even without the major league teams. It is an interesting notion but it made me think about another aspect of the economics of sports.

Winner-take-all markets are those in which extremely small differences in ability can lead to humongous differences in rewards (compensation). These markets are usually characterized by reproducibility of effort. Popular music is one classic example. It used to be that musicians had to preform live and necessarily to a limited audience. So a slightly more talented musician may draw a few more people in the audience, but the differences were small. With high fidelity recordings, suddenly the market was virtually unlimited and a slightly more talented musician could sell perhaps millions more than a slightly less talented one.

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Obama forecast fails. Huge job lossess ahead.

August 26, 2009 --

White House economists see increasing unemployment for the next 12 months
By Dr. Eric Fruits,
Oregon Economist

The White House budget office has released its latest economic and fiscal projections. It predicts the largest deficits since World War II and increasing unemployment. The White House unemployment prediction highlights the impotence of the stimulus package passed earlier this year. As the figure above shows, at the time, the administration predicted that the stimulus would have halted job losses by the middle of this summer.

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18 of 20 cities show home price improvement


New York Times reports, “Eighteen of the 20 cities tracked by Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed improvement in June, up from eight in May, four in April and only one in March…For all the improvement reflected in the new Case-Shiller report, housing prices are still down sharply in comparison to last year’s figures. The increases reported on Tuesday show up when June’s transaction prices are compared with those of the month before. But when this June is compared with June of 2008, the 20-city composite index is still down 15.4 percent — an improvement from the 19.1 price decline of last winter. Average home prices are now at the level they were in early 2003.”

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Oregon Supreme Court Denies Employee’s Wrongful Discharge

August 25, 2009 --

Oregon Supreme Court Denies Employee’s Wrongful Discharge Claim for Reporting Unlawful Trade Practices
by P.K. Runkles-Pearson
Stoel Rives LLP, Attorneys at Law

The Oregon Supreme Court has denied a car salesman’s wrongful discharge claim. In Lamson v. Crater Lake Motors, Inc., the salesman, Kevin Lamson, claimed he was terminated for complaining to his employer that an outside entity managing sales on his employer’s car lot was engaging in unlawful trade practices.  Lamson refused to participate in special promotional events run by the outside company,  because he believed company was engaging in sales tactics that were unethical and unlawful.

As the World of Work has discussed earlier, wrongful discharge is a common law remedy.  One way a plaintiff may assert the claim is by arguing that the employer terminated him for fulfilling an “important societal obligation.”  Oregon courts determine what obligations qualify by reviewing state statutes and the state constitution.

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