Initial unemployment claims fell, reversing February’s gain. Claims remain below the peak reached in December 2008, and while at a level consistent with substantial job losses, suggest that the pace of deterioration will moderate. Note that jobs at employment services firms continued to decline.
New permits for residential construction, smoother, fell in March, breaking through the bottom of recent trends. Stability in the housing market continues to be elusive, as lower prices and mortgage rates are offset by tighter credit conditions and increasing unemployment related foreclosures.
Consumer confidence was effectively unchanged. Recent confidence trends suggest that household spending is stabilizing after suffering a steep decline in the second half of 2008 (note that nationally, consumption spending grew in the first quarter of 2009).
Core manufacturing orders for capital goods rose for the second month, indicating that business spending is stabilizing after a sharp fall.
[Continued recession] While some indicators are indicating the economy is stabilizing after the steep fall that began in the 2008, the overall picture points to continued recession in Oregon in the near term (3 to 6 months). Fiscal stimulus should be increasingly supportive of economic activity in the latter half of 2008.
— Timothy Duy is the Director, Oregon Economic Forum Director in the Undergraduate Advising Department of Economics at the University of Oregon. The Index is produced with the support of KeyBank.