Oregon Economy: Payroll and Housing down

Timothy Duy
Director, Oregon Economic Forum

The UO Index dropped 0.9 percentage points in June, but the pace of the downturn over the past six months continues to lessen.  Moreover, the drop was exaggerated by falls in just two components, residential building permits and employment services payrolls.  Remaining indicators were stronger.  Highlights include:

•    Initial jobless claims edged downward again, but remain consistent with continuing declines in nonfarm payrolls.  Similarly, employment services payrolls resumed their decline.  These data, in combination with stronger data mentioned below, continue to raise the concern of a “jobless recovery.”
•    Residential housing permits (smoothed to account for monthly volatility) continued their descent as the seasonal pattern remains weak, a testament to challenges in the housing industry.  For comparison, the NOT seasonally adjusted (raw) figure for June 2009 was 625 permits.  The comparable figure for June 2006 was 2,925 permits.
•    New orders for core manufactured goods rose for a second month, pointing to stabilization in business investment plans.  Similarly, measures of national consumer confidence and Oregon trucking activity rose.  Note that consumer confidence remains at a level consistent with weak spending.  It does provide, however, further evidence that household spending is forming a bottom in comparison to the sharp declines in the second half of last year. 
•    Similar to last month’s pattern, the pace of economic deterioration has slowed markedly, and while the Oregon economy likely remained in recession in June, the ongoing improvement in the 6 month annualized change in the UO Index is consistent with the recession (period of negative growth) ending in the second half of 2009.  Without a clear upward turn in the UO Index itself, it would be premature, however, to decisively declare that the recession has ended.

We are pleased to announce the 6th annual Oregon Economic Forum:  The Economy Under Obama: Assessing the First Nine Months, Looking Toward the Future.

October 22, 2009, Portland,OR

The Obama Administration came to office facing a financial market in shambles and an economy in crisis, a situation that required quick and decisive policy initiatives on fiscal stimulus and banking policy.  Ten months later what has been the impact of those programs, for the nation and for Oregon?  Did the Administration jumpstart economic activity, or are we looking at a prolonged period of economic weakness?  And what is next on the agenda – in particular, what are the Administration’s plans for entitlement programs?  Will Medicare and Social Security reform be on the agenda, and what shape would those reforms take?


For more information, visit http://econforum.uoregon.edu
Special thanks to KeyBank, presenting sponsor of the 2009 Oregon Economic Forum

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