Oregon’s July unemployment was 11.9%, virtually the same as the (revised) 12% figure for June. The good news is that the pace of job losses is slowing dramatically. 700 jobs were lost in July compared to 3,400 (revised) in June and way down from the peak of the job loss figures we were seeing at the end of last year and the beginning of this year.
What does it all mean? I think we can be reasonably confident that the official recession in Oregon will end this year (and may have already). So we are close to bottoming out. But the recovery is going to be slow and I believe it will take a few years to regain the jobs we lost.
On the bright side, the economies of East Asia and Europe appear to be recovering so demand for Oregon exports may begin to improve soon – especially in the high-tech sector as businesses that delayed upgrading their technology start to do so again. Residential and commercial construction will take mush longer to recover so I don’t anticipate the wood products industries to rebound quickly, but we may be close to the bottom there too. Finally, as the federal stimulus package really starts to hit the ground this fall, that could provide an enormous boost to the overall recovery of the national economy which will help all states, including ours.
Nevertheless I think we are in for a long, slow recovery as there just isn’t that obvious engine of growth out there at the moment. But that is not to say that one won’t appear, it is just not likely to do so in the short term.
So though I expect Oregon’s unemployment to hover around the 12% range for a while, I am optimistic that it has essentially peaked, and I am pretty confident that we will avoid the 13% that some have predicted.