December 31, 2015 - Oregon full employment within sight

By Josh Lehner Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog Full employment is finally within sight. It is not here yet, and the current economic expansion is far from perfect, but a long stretch of modest gains in recent years have cumulatively delivered significant progress across the economic spectrum. The number of actual jobs and job openings posted by businesses have never been higher. Combining this with an unemployment rate that is back to normal, at least on paper, indicates that workers are finally becoming a bit scarce. The result is businesses must now compete on price (wages) to attract and retain the best employees. Finally, after years of lackluster wage gains nationally, average hourly earnings for all workers are now increasing faster than inflation. More income for U.S. households will […]

December 30, 2015 - 2016 brings these new business laws

Associated Oregon Industries Oregon’s largest business advocate by Betsy Earls  The July adjournment of 2015 Session seems like a long time ago, but many of the laws the Legislature passed are just now taking effect. Unless an emergency clause caused a bill to go into effect immediately upon passage, all 2015 legislation will take effect January 1, 2016. As employers prepare for 2016, they should review the following list and consider whether any of their policies need updating. Ban the Box: HB 3025, known as “Ban the Box,” prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their conviction history on the initial job application. However, note that nothing in this law prevents an employer from including a statement on their job applications saying that all job applicants will be subject to […]

December 29, 2015 - 10 most popular business stories of 2015 by NFIB

By NFIB 1. The Obamacare penalty no one is talking about 2. What the Supreme Court headscarf ruling means for small biz 3. The Obamacare provision repeal that’s uniting both parties 4. What Ben Carson’s flat-rate tax plan would really look like 5. House votes to repeal estate tax: how it affects your small business 6. Trump towers in small biz polls 7. Overtime pay changes may soon affect small businesses 8. House passes legislation to overturn NLRB’s snap unionization rule 9. Response to SCOTUS striking down EPA regulations 10. Job losses from minimum wage increases worse than reported

December 28, 2015 - Give employers personalized minimum wages

By Steve Buckstein, Cascade Policy Institute Union-backed and activist groups are trying to put measures on the November 2016 ballot to raise Oregon’s minimum wage from the current $9.25 to either $13.50 or $15, and to allow local governments such as the city of Portland to go above whatever the statewide minimum ends up being. State Senator Michael Dembrow (D) thinks he can improve minimum wage policy by recognizing that different regions of that state have different costs of living and employment climates. He’s trying to craft a bill for the February 2016 legislative session that would set three different minimum wage rates: one for the Portland Metro region, one for the Willamette Valley, and one for everywhere else.

December 23, 2015 - Are you better off than before the recession?

Are You Better Off than Before the Recession? written by Damon Runberg, Central Oregon Regional Economist Oregon Employment Department Were you working before the 2007-2009? If so, are you still working today? If you said “yes” to both then I have another question for you. Are you better off today than before the recession?  Anecdotally, I hear stories from families across Oregon who say they don’t feel like we are in an economic expansion due to stagnation in their wages and the rising costs of goods and services. Their paycheck today is spread thinner than it was back in 2005. However, the plural of anecdote is not data. What does the data say? Are pre-recession workers who are still employed better off than they were before the recession? Using payroll […]

December 23, 2015 - Oregon’s big lay-offs of 2015

By Oregon Small Business Association, Oregon shed 5,300 jobs in September and its 12-month job growth of nearly 50,000 jobs is substantially lower than the previous 12 months. In fact, 2015 has witnessed significant developments among some of Oregon largest employers, with major companies being bought out, moving operations to other locations, or laying off workers. The glut and downsizing of large employers raises concerns as Oregon’s employment numbers continue to slow. Capital One lays off 900. The financial service company has announced plans to close its call center in Tigard by the end of the year, resulting in 900 layoffs. Employees do have the opportunity to apply for work within the company. Capital One is Tigard’s largest employer.

December 22, 2015 - Schrader explains No vote on budget bill

Congressman Kurt Schrader Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) stated his disapproval of the House’s passage of the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. The bill will fund the government until the end of September 2016. It passed the House today by a vote of 316-113. “While this bill contained some positive policy additions, our bipartisan forestry disaster budget relief did not make the grade, while anti-privacy cyber provisions, NASCAR support, and Russian rocket engines did.”

December 21, 2015 - Oregon’s hi-tech sector is being disrupted

By Josh Lehner Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog Oregon’s high-technology sector is being disrupted. Industry growth in the past decade is entirely concentrated in software, while Oregon’s historical strength in hardware is no longer the driver of job growth. Hardware remains the state’s comparative advantage, pays a large number of employees very high wages, and drives much of the state’s GDP growth due to its productivity. However, relatively flat employment in hardware — like manufacturing overall — has been, and is the new up. Conversely, software companies are driving job growth in the sector, much of which is concentrated in Multnomah County. See here for more on the sector definitions. The Oregonian’s Mike Rogoway has two recent interesting articles on this software growth and the fact that many of […]

December 18, 2015 - 6 key items in big budget deal

U.S. Chamber of Commerce U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following comments regarding the compromise FY2016 omnibus spending bill and the policy priorities that were included: “Congress continues to defy expectations that nothing would get done this year. It already passed the first meaningful reform to entitlements in a generation, the first transportation bill in a decade, the first changes to our broken permitting process since 1969, Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, and trade promotion authority. The omnibus spending bill—while far from perfect—builds on these achievements by implementing a number of important business priorities that will strengthen economic growth, create jobs, and enhance America’s competitiveness and security. Additionally, we applaud lawmakers for agreeing on a long-term package of vital tax provisions that will avert tax hikes […]

December 17, 2015 - Oregon NFIB on breakthrough budget deal

By Oregon NFIB, At 2009 pages, the political world has a lot to say today on the federal budget deal posted online in the wee hours of the morning, and one provision in particular has Oregon small-business owners hoping Congress seals the deal on Friday and President Obama signs it. The part of the bipartisan agreement making up to $500,000 of Section 179 expensing permanent, instead of year to year, has been a long-time lobbying goal of the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s largest and leading small-business association. When the Bush tax cuts expired, the amount that small firms could expense dropped down to $25,000 and expired every year, unless Congress extended it.