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Economic forecasting contradictions

July 16, 2015 --

slow-growth-fedBy Oregon Economist Dr. Eric Fruits
Econ-Minute Blog

God made economists to make weather forecasters look good.

Hear enough economic forecast speeches, and you’re bound to hear this old joke. And, yes, I’m guilty of using the joke more than once.

Two recent articles put the joke in to perspective.

First the Wall Street Journal editorial board complained that the Fed has history of overly optimistic economic growth forecasts. They note that “Economic forecasting isn’t easy, but it’s striking how consistently the Fed has been wrong in a single direction.”

Remarking on the Fed’s spotty track record at forecasting first quarter growth, the WSJ snarks, “Economists always blame the cold weather, but it is not news that winters are cold.”

Read the full article and discuss it »

Oregon new businesses at 40 year low

July 15, 2015 --

osba-foundation-logoEntrepreneurship in Oregon Plummets to Lowest Point in 40 years; Rate of Tech Startups Lags
By Oregon Small Business Association Foundation

Entrepreneurship in Oregon is currently at historic lows.

According to a recent data from state economists, the number of new Oregon businesses entering the marketplace on an annual basis is proportionally lower than at any point since the mid-1970s.

In the early 1990s, new firms comprised on average 12% of all Oregon businesses. According Joh Lehner, the report’s author, new businesses now comprises only 8% of all statewide business. That’s a 50% decline and marks the lowest level of entrepreneurship in 40 years—since the state began keeping such records.
Oregon’s not alone. The last recession put the skids on entrepreneurship levels nationwide. It’s yet to fully recover, and may not recover in the near future.
The trend has perplexed analysts, some of whom suggest that fundamental changes have occurred in the way new businesses get started that will impact the number and growth of innovative new startups.

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Oregon severe recession update

July 14, 2015 --


By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog

Unlike the nation, unfortunately, Oregon’s Great Recession does have a modern peer: the early 1980s. Our office has documented the similarities numerous times over the years, from the unemployment rate to total jobs and from housing starts to manufacturing jobs and the like. Below are a few updates to the comparison and add in our new measure of the Total Employment Gap. First, total employment in Oregon returned to pre-recession levels following the Great Recession 3 months ahead of the early 80s recovery, or nearly 7 years after job losses started (83 months overall today vs 86 months back in the 80s.) Similarly the unemployment rate and even the U-6 measure of labor market utilization followed very similar paths to the 1980s. In early 2015 both measures were actually a bit below their comparative figures nearly 30 years ago.

SevereUR

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Lottery funds show state is terrible investor

July 13, 2015 --

Cascade-PolicyBy Thomas Tullis
Cascade Policy Institute

When Oregon politicians pretend to be experts on venture capital investing, it ends up costing the state millions of dollars in education money.

This is exactly what is going on with the Oregon Growth Board, a project of the Oregon Business Development Department. Tasked with generating a return on investment by financing venture capital funds in Oregon, the Board receives 10% of state lottery profits that are supposed to be apportioned to a state education endowment fund. Unfortunately for students, the Oregon Growth Account boasts a measly 1.5% return on investment over a 15-year period.

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IRS fines for helping workers buy insurance?

July 10, 2015 --

nfib-logoBy National Federation of Independent Business,

NFIB urges quick repeal of schizophrenic IRS rule imposing fines on small businesses for helping defray the cost of their workers’ insurance or medical expenses

Washington, DC (June 29, 2015) – An obscure IRS rule takes effect under which small businesses that get caught helping their workers buy insurance or pay medical bills can be fined 18 times more than larger employers that don’t provide coverage at all, warned the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) today.

“It’s the biggest penalty that no one is talking about,” said NFIB Policy Director Kevin Kuhlman. “The penalty for compensating employees for healthcare-related expenses is enough to destroy most small businesses.”

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5 things I wish I knew in my career’s first 5 Years

July 9, 2015 --

technology-association-logoBy Technology Association of Oregon.

I have been reflecting on my 20+ year career on the things that I wish I better understood when I was first starting out:

1. Don’t wait for permission to get the experience you want

In today’s world, it’s easier than ever to proactively develop your experience—without waiting for a specific job opportunity to open up. Do you want experience planning a highly visible event even though your company doesn’t have that need? Volunteer for a non-profit that puts on a fun run or festival. Do you want to put your journalism degree to work even though your current job doesn’t require writing?

Start a blog. Are you not getting what you need from your manager to help you take your career to the next level? Join a professional development organization or seek out a mentor. Never wait to get the experience you want.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Wyden: Tax reform on craft beverage industry

July 8, 2015 --

Wyden-ron-SenatorU.S. Senator Ron Wyden Press Release,

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has introduced legislation that would promote continued job creation in the growing craft beverage, cider, wine and distillery industries throughout Oregon and the country.

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, S.1562, introduced Thursday would cut taxes and modernize outdated regulations for craft brewers, cider makers, vintners, and distillers.

In Oregon, those industries are responsible for an estimated 40,000 jobs collectively and generate about $6 billion annually in revenue.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Oregon weak labor force results puzzling

July 7, 2015 --

chart-duy-july15University of Oregon Regional Economic Indexes
By Tim Duy
Oregon Economic Forum
University of  Oregon

Softness in employment components dragged down the Oregon Measure of Economic Activity in May to a near-average level. Highlights of the report include:

– The three-month moving average of the Oregon Measure of Economic Activity, which smooths month-to-month volatility in the measure, fell to 0.21, where “zero” for this measure indicates average growth over the 1990-present period.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Video lottery sees double digit growth

July 6, 2015 --


By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog

In recent years there had been somewhat of a disconnect from broader economic gains and growth in video lottery sales, and gaming more generally across the country. Granted, gaming is a very discretionary type of spending and while the economy was improving, not all was well (see HERE or HERE e.g.)

However, video lottery sales have improved considerably in the past year and are growing at double digits today. Such gains coincide with the Oregon Lottery’s major capital improvement program which will replace the nearly 12,000 video lottery terminals (VLT) across the state and upgrade the underlying IT system. The first wave of replacements started just about a year ago and finished back in March. Essentially each retailer (the bars, delis and restaurants) now has 2 new VLTs. Over the next couple of years the other VLTs will likewise be replaced.

VideoSales053015

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Chamber: New overtime rule divorced from reality

July 3, 2015 --

Chamber-of-commerceU.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits Randy Johnson issued the following statement regarding the Obama administration’s overtime proposal:

“Making more employees eligible for overtime by severely restricting the exemptions will not guarantee more income, but instead will negatively impact small businesses and drastically limit employment opportunities. Additionally, many reclassified employees will lose benefits, flexibility, status, and opportunities for advancement. This change is another example of the administration being completely divorced from reality and adding more burdens to employers and expecting them to just absorb the impact.”

Read the full article and discuss it »
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