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US Chamber reacts to Tax Reform

April 28, 2017 --

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Welcomes Trump Administration’s Tax Reform Outline
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement regarding the tax reform outline released today by the Trump administration:

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Marijuana In The Post-Legalization Workplace

April 27, 2017 --

Michael G. McClory
Bullard Law
NW Law Firm

The Bullard Edge has a new project: Bullard Edge Radio. We are (fictionally) beaming our south of 1 nanowatt signal from an undisclosed broadcast location in Mid-Town. While we are not exactly iHeartRadio, our listenership is growing.

To help grow the brand, we have a tagline (KBL Employment Law Radio) and we are injecting a little old fashioned radio energy into our broadcasts (think of “the Real” Don Steele meets Professor Charles Kingsfield). The most popular of our gimmicks is a twice daily contest we call the EEO Quiz Game. Two times a day we take a caller and ask him or her an employment law related question. Callers who answer correctly receive a prize package.

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Forecasting slower Oregon growth


Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis

The May forecast is fast-approaching. It is the single most important thing our office does, as it effectively sets the revenue estimates and kicker baseline for the upcoming biennium. This week and next we are meeting with our economic and revenue advisors to discuss the outlook and pick their brain for insights into their industries, what their clients are seeing, and the like. Right now, however, I wanted to review where the economic outlook stands today. This may change somewhat after our advisory meetings and as we finalize the May forecast.

Overall, our office is expecting slower economic (and revenue) growth moving forward than what we have seen in recent years. This largely stems from the fact that the economy is currently somewhere near full employment. The unemployment rate is at historic lows. Even if you add back in all of those who probably should be in the labor force but are not looking for a job today, the labor market is tight. Those working part-time but want full-time work is also back down to pre-Great Recession rates. And importantly, the share of the prime working-age population with a job is also back to where it was in 2007, more on this soon.

As such, job growth in the past year has slowed. We are past the cyclical peak seen a couple years ago when the state was adding 5,000 jobs per month and seeing growth rates of 3-3.5% year-over-year. Right now, we are seeing gains of closer to 3,000 jobs per month, or rates of 2-2.5% year-over-year. This is largely in-line with our office’s forecasts and what Oregon needs to keep pace with the growing population. Remember, an economy approaching full employment behaves and grows differently than one digging out from a recession. This relative slowing in job growth is essentially across the board. It is not just one or two industries weighing on the topline. Two-thirds of employment subsectors are seeing slowing growth.

Given tax revenues largely track the economy, expectations for slower job growth translate into slower revenue growth as well. I think this point gets lost in the current budget discussion at times. Of course it is not lost on legislators and budget writers who ask us about this. However, this relative slowing amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars. Depending upon how one extrapolates recent trends, the projected budget hole would be 20 to 40 percent smaller if growth in 2017-19 matched what we have seen in 2015-17.

Now, since 2012 our office has built in this economic and revenue slowdown starting in about 2016. At this point in the business cycle, and with the economy near full employment, it is hard to forecast growth rates to re-accelerate and match those seen a couple of years ago. Importantly, these forecasts have also largely tracked well. That said, they have not been perfect. We had a relatively small kicker in 2013-15, but a kicker nonetheless. We are certainly not yet out of the woods on any potential kicker in 2015-17 either. As such it is important for us to gather input from our advisors as we work to hone our estimates for the upcoming biennium and release the official forecast on May 16th.

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Governor Orders Hiring Freeze

April 25, 2017 --

Governor Kate Brown Announces First in a Series of Cost Savings Across State Government

Governor Kate Brown announced that she is signing an Executive Order implementing a statewide hiring freeze. This is the first in a series of executive actions being taken by Governor Brown over the next several weeks in response to the current fiscal shortfall and to improve overall government efficiency and operations.

Governor Brown released the following statement:

“Oregon’s children and families deserve the chance to lead healthy and productive lives. But the cuts to the state budget recently proposed by the Legislature put the most vulnerable Oregonians even more at risk than they are now. This is unacceptable.

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1st Quarter earnings kicked into high gear

April 24, 2017 --

April 21st — First quarter earnings season kicked into high gear this week and investors were treated to a smorgasbord of blue-chip results across a range of industries. As they typically do, numbers for most companies have exceeded Wall Street expectations, but with almost 20 percent of the S&P 500 now having reported, the .75:1 ratio of “beats” is modestly better than where it has been over the last several quarters. Thus, a constructive backdrop to the early innings of earnings season is upon us. Because blue-chip equity valuations are elevated, companies need to deliver the earnings “goods” to justify current S&P 500 valuations of 18x estimated profit.

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March retail sales up slightly

April 21, 2017 --

Retail Sales Grew 0.3 Percent in March

By Treacy Reynolds

WASHINGTON – Retail sales in March increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over February and 3.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year, according to calculations released today by the National Retail Federation. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“Various factors were at play in the first quarter, but we are again seeing a pattern similar to previous years — consumer spending was weak but is expected to pick up as we move through the year,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

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Oregon beer numbers are up

April 20, 2017 --

2016 Annual Numbers Press Release
Posted by Brian

Oregon Craft Beer by the Numbers

In a Changing Craft Beer Climate, Oregon Drinkers Continue to Support Their Local Brewers


PORTLAND, OregonThe Oregon Brewers Guild released their annual numbers report for 2016. Overall, Oregon is seeing strong growth in employment and brewing company numbers, while production numbers and sales continue to hold strong and steady. Oregonians are drinking more Oregon beer. Beer consumption increased in 2016, with 23.3 percent of the 3.04 million barrels of all beer (both bottled and draft) consumed in the state were made in Oregon. 707,000 barrels of beer consumed by Oregonians in 2016 were made by an Oregon brewery, an 8.7 percent increase from 2015.r

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Oregon 8th fastest job growth state!

April 19, 2017 --

By Oregon Employment Department,

Oregon had the eighth fastest job growth among the states from January 2016 to January 2017. Adding 43,200 jobs for a growth rate of 2.4 percent, Oregon’s solid job growth was much slower than first ranked Idaho (+4.0%) and second ranked Nevada (+3.5%). Oregon’s job growth rate was nestled between Washington (2.8%) and California (2.0%) growth rates.

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ESA’s could benefit students

April 18, 2017 --

Education Savings Accounts Can Help Students Without Hurting Public Schools

Cascade Policy Institute, By Steve Buckstein 

School choice programs allow students to choose schools or other educational resources and pay for them with a portion of the tax funding that otherwise would go to the public school assigned to them by their ZIP code.

While school choice is popular with large segments of the public, opponents often claim specific programs like vouchers or Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) drain funds from the public school system, and so must be rejected.

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Consumer confidence near all-time high

April 17, 2017 --

by Brad Houle, CFA, Executive Vice President

April 14th — For the shortened holiday week, equity markets were down by almost 1 percent as investors followed events in Russia and North Korea. Interest rates were lower with the 10-year Treasury declining in yield from 2.36 to 2.22 percent.

Each quarter we select a theme for our investment strategy communication and this spring it is, “Economics Over Politics.” It highlights that, despite some recent market softness due to geopolitical concerns, the financial markets are more focused on economic data than current political nuances and navigation occurring in Washington, D.C.

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