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Chamber criticizes Obama’s Gainful Employment Rule

October 31, 2014 --

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten issued the following statement today regarding the final Gainful Employment Rule released by the administration:

“The new ‘gainful employment’ regulation will limit educational opportunities for Americans and negatively impact our nation’s economy. Although the Department of Labor recently announced that there are 4.8 million job openings across the country, this rule limits people’s access to institutions of higher education that can provide them with the education and skills necessary to fill these jobs.

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Oregon wins 23 Beer Medals — near record

October 30, 2014 --

brwrdsBy Oregon Brewers Guild

Oregon Breweries Take Home 23 Medals At The 2014 Great American Beer Festival

Oregon breweries claimed a total of 23 medals, the second most ever at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) held  in Denver, Colorado.

Oregon Breweries brought home eight gold medals, eight silver medals and seven bronzes. The Portland Metro area brought back 8 medals, Central Oregon had with five medals, Eastern Oregon and the Coast won four medals and Mt. Hood/The Gorge and Southern Oregon each received one medal.

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Oregon business ranking faulted

October 29, 2014 --

nfib-logoBy Jan Meekcoms
Oregon NFIB

The nonpartisan Tax Foundation today released its 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index, and the report ranked Oregon a seemingly respectable 12th best in the nation. But don’t stare too long at that number warned the state director for Oregon’s largest small-business association. It’s not what it appears.

The index measured a state’s corporate taxes, individual income taxes, sales tax, unemployment insurance tax and property-tax rank to come up with an overall score. Oregon came out No. 12 in the nation. “The absence of a major tax is a common factor among many of the top ten states,” wrote the index’s authors.

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Paul Allen makes $100M Ebola Grant

October 28, 2014 --

From Paul Allen.compaul-allen

Partners with U.S. State Department and World Health Organization to Evacuate and Treat Infected Humanitarian Workers;
Collaborates with University of Massachusetts Medical School to Provide Training and Equipment;
Coordinates and Optimizes Global Giving by Launching “Fund a Need” Donation Platform

Philanthropist Paul G. Allen today increased his commitment to Tackle Ebola to at least $100 million and called on the global community to join the cause. This crisis requires a multi-pronged approach to solving it. As such, Mr. Allen is leading the following initiatives:

Humanitarian Aid Worker Medevac Fund and Medevac Transport:

Effectively addressing the Ebola crisis requires the continued commitment of medical professionals. One of the key challenges in their recruitment is the lack of a clear medevac pathway should they become infected and require treatment.

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Portland emerging as a truly Digital City

October 27, 2014 --

By Technology Association of Oregon.

A number of media outlets noted that Portland continues to attract young college graduates in droves.

Why Portland is Growing Its Own Swiss Chard and Stealing Your College Grads

Where Young College Graduates Are Choosing To Live

There was also coverage of a growing trend of startup founders leaving the Bay Area to grow their companies in Portland.

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The economics of iPhone 6 pricing

October 23, 2014 --

Patrick Emerson PhD ,

OSU Economist
Oregon Economics Blog

When the new iPhone 6 was announced, so too were prices that ended in 99.  This is almost ubiquitous in consumer pricing, but it catches my eye because it comes from the company of Steve Jobs.  From what I know if Steve Jobs I suspect that this pricing would not have pleased him, he seems like the kind of person for whom the price of $200 is much more elegant than $199.  And yet, even when he was in change, Apple product prices inevitably ended in 9.

So why is this?  It seems that the rational costumer of economic theory would not be moved by such tricks, instantly rounding up or understanding that $199 is simply a dollar less than $200.  But the widespread use of pricing in nines clearly suggests that the story is more complex.  Pricing in the nines remains, then, a bit of a puzzle in economics.

Most economic and psychological theories that I have encountered have to do with consumers not really spending cognitive energy to fully evaluate the price.  Psychological research has suggested that we tent to fixate on the most important number – the one the the far left.  Economists have suggested we truncate to use cognitive energy economically.   I wonder if we are happy to fool ourselves to convince ourselves to buy something we really want.  In other words, we feel better knowing we have spent “less than $200” on the new iPhone we really want.  Which is, I suppose, just another form of the same explanations above.

Whatever the reason, I bet Steve Jobs didn’t like it.

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Gambling trends: Oregon & U.S.

October 22, 2014 --

By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog

Our office is releasing a new report  on gaming in the U.S. and state revenues. Below is the executive summary.

Download:   Report   |   Slides   |   Data

Atlantic City, New Jersey has been in the headlines for their troubled casinos, with 4 closures and a bankruptcy over the past year. The gaming industry’s troubles are not isolated to Atlantic City alone. Across the country, gaming firms are under pressure from increased competition and weak sales growth following the Great Recession.

What sales growth firms have seen has largely come at the expense of other gaming venues. New casinos or games in previously untapped cities and states are driving overall growth, masking the underlying industry trends. This is particularly pronounced in the Northeast. Mature gaming destinations, of which Atlantic City is an extreme example, continue to suffer declines or exhibit no growth. Regional sales have shifted to newer venues in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. Even in locations with minimal competition, sales have increased more along the lines of population growth than economic measures like jobs or income.


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Switching college debt from students to taxpayers

October 21, 2014 --

By Steve Buckstein,
Cascade Policy Institute

Oregon voters are being asked this November to authorize spending more tax dollars to help some students afford an arguably unaffordable higher education. Measure 86 will create a permanent fund to subsidize certain students, which can be financed several ways including through state general obligation bonds. Any bonds issued under the so-called Oregon Opportunity Initiative will have to be paid off over 30 years, primarily by income tax payers, not by students. Only the earnings on bond proceeds and other funds will be available for subsidies.

There are several problems with this proposal:

First, Measure 86 does nothing to reduce the overall cost of higher education in Oregon. In fact, it actually could increase those costs as more taxpayer dollars flow into the system.

Second, even if the measure does help some students afford college, we don’t know if they will be prepared to succeed there, or if they will need costly and time-consuming remedial courses to learn what they should have learned in high school.

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Survey: Business optimism dropping

October 20, 2014 --


Small Business Optimism Index Declines in September

September’s optimism index gave up 0.8 points, falling to 95.3. At 95.3, the Index is now 5 points below the pre-recession average (from 1973 to 2007). Four Index components improved, six declined. Two declined by 10 points total, accounting for the entire decline in the Index score. Unfortunately, the two that fell drastically were job openings and planned capital outlays, which are directly relevant to GDP growth and hiring.

“Small businesses just can’t seem to get out of second gear. In order for the Index to get back to the average, responses to the 10 Index component questions would have to improve 50 percentage points cumulatively. That’s a lot of ‘positive’ responses to makeup to get back to ‘average’ much less reach a level that means a solid recovery,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “A decline in job openings and capital spending plans were primarily responsible for September’s Index decline. Overall, small business owners are still stuck in a rut that has been difficult to escape.

A review of the September indicators is as follows:

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How cities block popular taxi-app from consumers

October 17, 2014 --

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

If you’ve ever been stranded late at night without a taxi in sight, then you probably don’t need to be convinced that services like Uber and Lyft, which allow consumers to order cars directly from their smartphones, have brought innovation to an industry not exactly known for its efficiency.

Yet for how much positive feedback they’ve received from the general public, these kinds of game changing companies have nonetheless come up against regulatory challenges across the United States—even though their expansions have been fueled by torrid consumer demand.

Take Uber, which was valued at more than $18 billion in June, according to the New York Times’s Dealbook blog. The San Francisco, California-based company, which collects roughly one-fifth of the money generated by each successful ride, also reportedly logged more than $1 billion in gross revenue last year—not bad for a four-year-old startup.

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