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Portland Business Alliance Releases Economic Check-Up

Friday, December 11, 2015

 

The Portland Business Alliance released its sixth Economic Checkpoint, an annual look at the economic health of the Portland metro region, on Thursday. According to the report, jobs are on the rise in the region, but median household incomes are lagging behind.

According to the report from the Business Alliance, Portland is adding jobs faster than many of its neighbors and peers.

“When the recession began in 2007, Portland metro fell faster and harder than comparable metro regions across the U.S. And when recovery began in 2009, the region grew jobs faster than the national average,” the report reads. 

Of Portland’s “peer cities,” which include St. Louis, Missouri, Cincinnati, Ohio, Sacramento, California and Salt Lake City, Utah, cities which five years ago had economic and population characteristics similar to Portland, only Salt Lake City added more jobs since 2009. 

When compared to Portland’s “aspirational regions,” which include Seattle, Denver and Minneapolis, metros that Portland frequently looks to for best practices, Portland also did well. It has surpassed Minneapolis ingot growth over the past five years.

According to the report, those jobs gains have been stimulated by growth in education,  hospitality and business services.

“Looking at employment changes since 2008, however, the largest gains have been in the professional/business services, education/health services, leisure/hospitality and trade/ transportation/utilities categories,” the report reads. “Together, those sectors account for 75,400 new jobs in the region and they are responsible for the overall employment gain in the regional economy. Manufacturing, financial activities and construction – though growing now – still have not recovered the jobs lost during the recession. Construction, in particular, continues to lag with a net job loss of 4,300 since 2007.”

However, median income in the region remains a “nagging concern.”

“The first Value of Jobs Economic Check-Up in 2010 uncovered a troubling trend in the Portland-metro economy: the region’s per capita income started to decline more than a decade before the Great Recession began, falling below the national average for metro areas in 2007,” the report reads. “The Value of Jobs Coalition adopted a goal of achieving a per capita income that exceeds the national average for metro areas, which mirrored a statewide goal in the Oregon Business Plan. By 2014, the regional goal had not been met. Portland-metro’s per capita income was 96 percent of the national average for metro areas at $45,794. That put the region $1,821 below the national average for metro areas, $47,615.”

Sandra McDonough, President & CEO of the Portland Business Alliance said that the report “shows clear strengths,” but also stresses the need to reign in the City’s cost of living.

“Our region has some clear strengths. We’re growing private-sector jobs and productivity and exports remain strong, largely due to electronics and semiconductor manufacturing,” McDonough said. “However, it’s concerning to see that household incomes still have not rebounded as jobs have come back and that affordability is becoming a bigger challenge. This has implications for our economy, and for working families who are trying to stay afloat, buy homes, or put kids through college. It’s critical that we keep our collective focus on growing quality middle-wage jobs.”

 

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