Oregon: Payroll, tourism slide. Home sales up.

By Tim Duy,
Oregon Economic Forum

University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators.
sponsor, KeyBank.

The University of Oregon Lane County Business Index (LCBI) rose 2.5 percent to 88.1 (1999=100) in the fourth quarter of 2009, the first increase since the first quarter of 2007.  The increase is consistent with evidence that the national and state economies exited recession in the second half of 2009.  Highlights of the LCBI include:

•    New jobless falls, payroll drops. Overall, labor market indicators were mixed for the quarter. Help wanted advertising in the Register Guard rose during the quarter, albeit from a very low level. Initial unemployment claims fell for the fourth consecutive quarter and are nearing levels consistent with job growth.  Still, nonfarm payrolls continued to decline during the quarter, falling below the low of the last recession reached during the fourth quarter of 2001.

•    Tourism drops.
Measures of tourism and travel deteriorated during the quarter. Estimated lodging revenue slipped after three quarters of relative stability, highlighting the weak consumer spending environment confronting the tourism industry.  Airline passenger traffic declined slightly.

•    Home sales rise. Housing markets improved during the quarter, with home sales rising to a monthly rate of nearly 300 units, a 46 percent increase from the second quarter low.  Moreover, the average days on market declined as homes sold more quickly.

•    Bottom likely reached. The rise in the LCBI is a welcome sign and suggests the local economy reached a bottom in the second half of 2009 and is poised for growth in the months ahead.  Sustained improvement in the local economy depends on a return to job growth, which remained elusive at the end of 2009.

Timothy Duy
Director, Oregon Economic Forum
Director, Undergraduate Advising
Department of Economics
University of Oregon – 1285
Eugene, OR 97403-1285

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