By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog .
Just as last quarter  (also HERE ) we saw that job growth had returned to more regions of the state, the latest QCEW for 2013q1 finds that this is continuing and even strengthening. While the Portland MSA returned first to job growth, even as the other regions continued to shed jobs at the start of the technical recovery, the other regions are starting to gain ground in terms of job growth. Thankfully Portland is losing its dominant share of overall growth due to strength in other regions, not becauxse Portland has slowed down. As seen below, Portland continues to add about 20,000 private sector jobs on a year-over-year basis, or at about a 2.6% rate. The state has gone from adding 20,000 jobs on a year-over-year basis two years ago to closer to 35,000 jobs in recent months. This coincides with an improvement in job growth rates from about 2.0% to 2.5% today. Not great from a historical perspective but a good improvement nonetheless for the private sector. Overall employment growth is at 1.9% in March due to continued public sector declines (-1.2% in Q1).
In terms of growth by individual region, Central Oregon is way out in the lead here at over 5.5% year-over-year. Southern Oregon, the Columbia Gorge and the North Coast are all just a bit over 3% private sector growth in the past year. The Willamette Valley, Northeastern Oregon and the South Coast are all seeing some job growth, however less than the statewide average rates. South Central and Southeastern Oregon (includes Klamath) has registered just a few job gains in the past year.
One thing to keep in mind is that some of the regions seeing stronger growth today have further to climb given the severity of the Great Recession on the local/regional economy. Bend and Medford were not only the two hardest hit areas in Oregon but two of the hardest hit areas in the entire country. Seeing strong growth today is highly encouraging, but there still remains quite a bit more room for improvement before approaching pre-recession levels of job counts
Finally, just to keep consistent with last quarter and to produce Professor Emerson’s “Salem Psychedelia” graph,  the following shows the share of job gains by region. Portland in March 2013 accounted for 57% of the statewide gains, compared with 90% a couple years ago. The largest improvements in share have been in Central and Southern Oregon.
Seeing the recovery continue to spread to the state’s other cities and regions outside of Portland is highly encouraging and certainly needed. The pickup in growth rates is also encouraging and our baseline outlook calls for just a bit stronger growth over the next two years (2013-15 BN private sector average 2.6%). So far the data is coming in along this baseline however a full economic recovery, the feel good part of one, is still not quite here.