By Tim Duy,
Oregon Economic Forum
The University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators™ rose 0.7 percent to 91.3 in February 2011. Of the seven indicators that comprise the UO Index, three – Oregon employment services payrolls, US consumer sentiment, and the interest rate spread – showed significant improvement.
Highlights of the report include:
• Labor markets were generally stronger during the month. Initial unemployment claims edged up, but remains well below 2010 levels. Employment services payrolls – largely temporary employment – rose 3.2 percent during the month. Overall nonfarm payrolls (not included in the index) continued to rise, with firms adding a net 9,800 employees in February. Since October 2010, the Oregon economy has added an average of 5,900 jobs per month.
• Residential building permits (smoothed) again remained effectively flat as this sector continues to lag the overall recovery. Note that according to the Case-Shiller price index, housing prices in the Portland region continue to decline.
• Core manufacturing orders declined again, and appears inconsistent with other manufacturing data which is generally solid. Although this is a volatile series, recent declines are disappointing and bear further watching.
• Consumer confidence improved during February, but note that this was not the case in March as higher gasoline and food costs weighed on household budgets.
• Overall, the UO Index suggests the economic recovery in Oregon continues to build momentum. The rapid rise in commodity prices, however, remains a risk to the outlook.
Timothy A. Duy
Director, Oregon Economic Forum
Director, Undergradute Studies
Department of Economics
University of Oregon – 1285
Eugene, OR 97403-1285