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IRS audits at 15 year low

March 30, 2018 --

IRS audits at 15 year low.
By Taxpayer Foundation of Oregon,

For the sixth straight year IRS tax audits have been declining and have set a new 15 low in 2017 according to the Wall Street Journal. The year, 2010 was their peak, and since then they have lost a third of their enforcement staff.

As the above chart shows, the higher income have seen the biggest decline in percentage of returns audited.

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Remember FCC Hoax rule for April Fool’s Day

March 29, 2018 --

By David Oxenford Esq.
Broadcast Law

With April Fools’ Day falling on a Sunday this year, perhaps the potential for on-air pranks is lessened. But, then again, who knows what weekend talent may be planning? So, as we do every year about is time, we need to play our role as attorneys and ruin the fun by repeating our reminder that broadcasters need to be careful with any on-air pranks, jokes or other bits prepared especially for the day. While a little fun is OK, remember that the FCC does have a rule against on-air hoaxes. While issues under this rule can arise at any time, broadcaster’s temptation to go over the line is probably highest on April 1. The FCC’s rule against broadcast hoaxes, Section 73.1217, prevents stations from running any information about a “crime or catastrophe” on the air, if the broadcaster (1) knows the information to be false, (2) it is reasonably foreseeable that the broadcast of the material will cause substantial public harm and (3) public harm is in fact caused. Public harm is defined as “direct and actual damage to property or to the health or safety of the general public, or diversion of law enforcement or other public health and safety authorities from their duties.” Air a program that fits within this definition and causes a public harm, and expect to be fined by the FCC.

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Legislature: What business, tax issues passed

March 28, 2018 --

By Oregon Business & Industry,

Revenue Forecast Shows $99 million increase in available revenue.

The February 16 revenue forecast came in better than expected, allowing Legislators to breathe a sigh of relief. There would be no imminent budget threat to solve during the Short Session. Projected 2017-19 net General Fund resources were up $69.8 million and projected 2017-19 Lottery resources were up $29.3 million – a combined net revenue increase of $99.1 million. The Legislature made an extra $93 million in General Fund expenditures in 2018 based on the strength of the forecast.

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Oregon job sectors outperform other states

March 27, 2018 --

By Oregon Employment Department,

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in January and February. For 14 consecutive months, Oregon’s unemployment rate has been close to 4.1 percent, its lowest level since comparable records began in 1976. The U.S. unemployment rate was also 4.1 percent in both January and February.

In February, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by 2,700 jobs, following a revised gain of 4,900 jobs in January. Three major industries each added 1,000 jobs or more: retail trade (+1,800 jobs), construction (+1,000), and health care and social assistance (+1,000). These gains were partially offset by losses of 1,100 jobs in private educational services, 900 in professional and business services, and 700 in manufacturing.

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NIKE debuts ‘Respect Hotline’ after top firings

March 26, 2018 --

By Oregon Small Business Association

The top executive at Nike Inc. has offered company employees use of a “Matter of Respect” hotline and an email address to report inappropriate conduct in the wake of misconduct complaints.

In an internal memo, CEO and Chairman Mark Parker said the company has received reports in recent weeks of “behavior occurring within our organization that do not reflect our core values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment,” according to a March 15th article in the Portland Business Journal.

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Europe: 3% Tax on Amazon, Google, Facebook

March 23, 2018 --

By Wall Street Journal Editorial Board,

One difference between President Trump and the European Union is that Mr. Trump makes mistakes on his own and off the cuff, while Brussels makes mistakes by committee after careful study. So while European mandarins are kvetching about the trade war Mr. Trump risks starting with metals tariffs, Europe is now launching its own economic war with a proposal to tax U.S. tech firms.

Not that European leaders will admit the tech-tax plan they unveiled Wednesday is protectionism. The European Commission, the EU’s bureaucratic wing, is plugging for a 3% tax on revenues—no matter the profits—that large tech firms earn from sales in Europe. The companies would pay the tax to each country in which a sale occurs, rather than in the countries where their European headquarters are based, as under current rules.

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Firms try unlimited Personal Time Off

March 22, 2018 --

By Cascade Employers Association

Paid time off is one of the most important ‘checklist items’ when looking for a job. One of the first questions people will ask their friends when they start a new job is, “How much PTO do you get each year?”  There are many reasons why people care so much about paid time off, but the biggest reason is for better work-life balance. Having a rich PTO benefit can decrease the stress people feel when they need to use it for things they aren’t really thrilled about. For example, you need to take your dog to the vet, but they are only open during typical business hours, 8-5, just like your work. What do you do? Well, you have to dig into your PTO bucket and take that time, even if it isn’t how you would prefer to spend it.

Enter, Unlimited PTO Policies! Doesn’t that sound like the most amazing benefit any company could give to its employees? What could be bad?

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Chart: Oregon’s big millennial surge

March 21, 2018 --

By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis

Pew announced they were changing their generational definitions to distinguish between where Millennials end and Post-Millennials begin, that name is still a work in progress. Specifically, Pew now defines Millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996, which makes them the same size, at least in terms of the number of years, as Gen X (1965-1980). Previously the definition for Millennials varied but was generally early 1980s through late 1990s. Our office had used 1981-2000. In their work, Pew highlights some of the defining features or life experiences for Millennials, including 9/11, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the 2008 election, and coming of age during the Great Recession and its lasting scars on housing, employment, and the like. Post-Millennials on the other hand were too young or not even born during these major events. However the one defining feature I latched on to for Post-Millennials was the smartphone. By the time every Post-Millennial reached middle school, smartphones were ubiquitous.

In the big picture these generational distinctions are not a big deal, given that societal and demographic changes are ever-evolving and slow-moving. Rarely is there a clear cutoff. That said, our office is updating our definitions as well in order to provide a more accurate comparison between state and national trends. This edition of the Graph of Week takes a look at the Oregon population forecast by these updated generations, coming from the state demographer, Kanhaiya Vaidya, in our office.

There’s a lot going on here, but the trends are clear. The reign of the Millennials has been pushed back to 2020 given the new, smaller generational definition, but they will still surpass the Baby Boomers. Pew estimates this will occur nationally in 2019. Not only are the younger generations still growing, in large due to migration, but we’ve hit the point where natural attrition is beginning to impact the Boomers. Oregon is still seeing net in-migration among Boomers, it’s just the increases in mortality are larger.

As mentioned previously, the growth seen in the Millennials, the Post-Millennials, and at the end of the forecast Gen AA* (or whatever they will be called) is all about migration. Oregon’s ability to attract young, working-age households is vital for our long-run economic growth. This is apparent throughout Oregon’s history — for example the Baby Boomers moved to Oregon in droves in the 1970s and again in the 1990s — and is built into our office’s baseline forecast.

* Given both Gen X and the Millennials now span 16 years, I pegged the Post-Millennials at 16 years as well. The generation that follows has no name that I’m aware of. I toyed with calling them The Last Gen, but figured that was too apocalyptic. I’m going with Gen AA given Post-Millennials are/were called Gen Z as well.

Bonus Graph of the Week:

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Wyden hits Facebook with 6 privacy questions

March 20, 2018 --

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden Press Release,

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Facebook to detail the extent of misuse of its users’ private information, in a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent today. His letter follows reporting by the New York Times and Facebook’s own admission that about 50 million users’ data was downloaded and subsequently used by Cambridge Analytica, a political advertising firm, without the affirmative knowledge or consent of those users.

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Soda tax petition pulled

March 19, 2018 --

Oregon Prosperity Project,

The Coalition for Healthy Kids and Education, a PAC organized to support a tax of 1.5 cents to each ounce of soda in Multnomah County announced in February the coalition would not put the tax on the November ballot. This delay follows an announcement in November of 2017 to postpone the original initiative to November of 2018.

Several California and East Coast cities, and recently Seattle have imposed the drink taxes, but traction has slowed. The tax efforts have been fueled by a campaign funded in part by billionaire ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Billionaire John Arnold through advocacy organization, Action Now Initiative has also joined in the Oregon effort. Bloomberg and Arnold put close to $900,000 in the coalition in 2017 to cover costs of signature gathering to put a measure on the ballot. Even with this level of funding and support from a coalition of health-related organizations, the group has not moved forward.

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