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A degree earns you 98% more

May 29, 2014 --

National-chamber-foundation
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

With so much discussion focused on the rising costs of a college education, many wonder if college is really worth the investment. The answer: you better believe it.

In a recent article in Science magazine, MIT economist David Autor explores the widening wealth gap within the so-called “99 percent” in which he attributes education as a primary factor. Autor researched the earnings gap between workers with a four-year college degree and those with only a high school diploma.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Early signs small business health rates up 9-11%

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Obamacare Tax Driving Small Business Health Premium Increases
by TJ Reilly
Oregon Small Business Association

On June 2nd, Oregon health insurers that sell small group plans are required to file their proposed rate increases for 2015. In a health care market beset by regulatory and provider volatility, these filings are now required reading for small businesses that offer insurance to employees. Why? Because we continue to see rapid increases in health care premiums, the cost of which comes right out of our bottom line.

The early signs for 2015 rates in other states are not encouraging. Two weeks ago, Washington State companies filed for an average rate increase of 9.6% while Virginia filed for 11.7%. Some have tried to spin these double-digit increases as positive news, noting that in past years premiums have increased by as much as 20%. I assure you, however, that if you are paying these bills you are not celebrating a 10% annual increase on an expensive product you’re providing to each of your workers. So what’s still driving these double-digit increases? While industry experts give a lot of reasons, there’s one new tax that has received little attention: the Health Insurance Tax (HIT).

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Oregon rated among top business closing states

May 28, 2014 --

By Dr. Eric Fuitsoutofbusiness-close
Econ International
& Oregon Tax News,

In a recent report from the Brookings Institution, authors Ian Hathaway and Robert Litan find that American entrepreneurs started 27 percent fewer businesses in 2011 than they did five years earlier, according to data from the Census Bureau. As a share of all companies, startups have been declining since the late 1970s. Even worse, they find that in recent years, more firms are exiting than are entering. The authors conclude that the decline in entrepreneurship “points to a U.S. economy that has steadily become less dynamic over time.” While the decline in entrepreneurship is broad-based—hitting every major industrial sector, every state, and nearly every large city—Oregon has been one of the hardest hit.

“Entry” evokes images of dynamic high tech startups like Snapchat or Airbnb or Portland’s own Simple. In reality, entry also includes plain ol’ businesses like coffee shops, convenience stores, bicycle repair shops, and consulting firms. While the high tech firms get most of the attention in the media for their dollar signs and innovations, the plain ol’ businesses make up a huge portion of the start up world. One line of reasoning says that it’s okay if entry slows, so long as the mix of entrants shifts toward the innovative and dynamic.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Sick leave law expands

May 26, 2014 --

By J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business advocate

The City of Eugene is considering a sick leave ordinance modeled on the ordinance Portland passed last year. The proposal was first presented to the Eugene City Council on February 24, 2014 by a coalition including Family Forward Oregon, and the Main Street Alliance of Oregon. During the February 24 meeting, most council members seemed interested in the proposal, but at the second meeting on April 9, at least two councilors expressed concerns about the impact of such an ordinance on businesses.

In response to these concerns, the Council appointed a task force to gather information on the issue. This task force met for the first time on May 9. Members of the task force include United Food and Commercial Workers Staff Director Kevin Billman; Painters Local 1277 Business Representative Pat Smith, who is also Secretary-Treasurer of the Lane, Coos, Curry, Douglas Building Trades Council; Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy; and Eugene City Council members Claire Syrett and Alan Zelenka.

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Tax Reform matters to Small Business

May 22, 2014 --

small-business-council-sbeTax Reform Details Matter to Main Street’s Bottom Line
By Karen Kerrigan,
Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council

America’s tax system has not been reformed for 28 years. The pro-growth foundation of the 1986 tax reform act has deteriorated beyond recognition. Fixing the broken tax system is something most Americans and almost every Member of Congress believe should be a priority for our nation. There are rays of hope on Capitol Hill, but tax reform must be done right if it is going to be fair and less burdensome for all Americans.

The Tax Reform Act of 1986, which lowered maximum tax rates for businesses and individuals, while reducing the number of exemptions and tax brackets, was one of Ronald Reagan’s most significant legislative accomplishments. The reform effort was two years in the making, accomplished even though there was partisan and intra-party bickering over details. Sadly, since then, the tax code has been ravaged. Tax rates have been raised and the system is onerous and complex.

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Study: State needs Cyber-Excellence Center

May 20, 2014 --

technology-association-logoBy Technology Association of Oregon

Oregon has more than 200 companies that are directly engaged in cyber-related industries, technologies and solutions. In addition, cyber awareness and security affect almost every business, large and small, across the state. Unlike most other states, Oregon has no coordinated support to strengthen our cyber capabilities for strategic benefit and to assist in responding to increasing threats that could affect business viability and our economy.

In response, the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) has presented Oregon’s Engineering, Technology Industry Council (ETIC) with a study and a request to establish a new Center of Cyber-Excellence (COE) in the State of Oregon. The requested center, which requires approximately $5.3 million in funding from the Oregon Legislature during the next bi-annum (biennium), will emphasize innovations in cyber-security and training the next generation of professionals. The TAO has also suggested that the COE host programs and “challenge events” that will inspire middle- and high-school students to pursue careers in cybersecurity.

Read the full article and discuss it »

NIKE-Apple deal rumored

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By Oregon Small Business AssociationNike2

Nike recently announced it will no longer produce new FuelBands—a wearable electronic exercise device that tracks heart rate, strides and other activity. Is the Portland-based sports company about to announce a related deal with Apple?

Some business writers and analysts think it’s possible that Nike and Apple are about to team up in a new partnership that incorporates FuelBand technology into hardware produced by Apple. It’s been rumored for a few years that Apple might create a wearable tech device or an iWatch that could be used for exercise but also for much more. In fact, Apple is the highest-profile company of its type not yet in that market space. Samsung and Google, for example, are already selling related gear.

Rumors are gaining steam as media has begun taking notice of noteworthy developments.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Severe Recessions in Oregon

May 19, 2014 --


By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog

Right now the Oregon economy continues to improve and is even a bit above our office’s forecast. As we continue to work on the next outlook, it can be useful to look back and compare business cycles to see what, if anything, we can learn from past experiences. Oregon has had two severe recessions since World War II, the early 1980s when the timber industry restructured and the Great Recession. In terms of employment, today the state largely tracks the experience seen during the 1980s, and also in terms of unemployment, as shown below (more on historical U-6).

SevereUnemp

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Blazer fan reach by comparison

May 14, 2014 --

From New York Times.
Click photo to enlarge
nbamap

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Gambling woes in Oregon & across nation

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gambling-casinoBy Oregon Tax News,

The Oregon economy is improving, but lottery revenue is not keeping pace with income growth and consumer trends.

Oregonians’ entertainment spending roughly mirrors income growth, but their spending on lottery -related activities has not returned to pre-recession levels. The state recently released its 2014 economic forecast, and revenue from lottery games and programs continue to fall short of expectations—more than six million dollars below projections.

Oregon is not alone. Across the country, different parts of the gaming economy have yet to recover from the recession. BusinessWeek and the Associate Press recently published articles indicating that the problem, though more acute in some regions, is widespread:

Read the full article and discuss it »
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