Oregon's economy continues slow recovery

Oregon's economy continues slow recovery

EUGENE, Ore. - The recovery is under way, chances of a double-dip recession are tiny, but Oregonians will have to be patient.

So said State Economist Tom Potiowsky at the annual Economic Forecast 2011 session in Eugene on Thursday.

Potiowsky was on a panel of five experts who looked ahead to the new year and what needs to happen to get Oregon's economy back on track.

Potiowsky told the audience at the Eugene Hilton that fourth quarter 2010 job growth in Oregon was an encouraging sign: up .6 percent.

He's predicting 1.4 percent job growth in the state for 2011 and 2 percent during 2012.  

Potiowsky cautioned the growth will be very slow, and the dismal state of the housing market will be a drag on that growth.

The panel predicts housing starts in Lane County will rise 10.3 percent in 2011, but still will be far below pre-recession levels.  Single family home permits for all of Oregon should rise 6.7 percent during the year. 

Job growth in Lane County will only rise 0.9 percent this coming year.

Regional economist Brian Rooney with the Oregon Employment Department, who produces the monthly unemployment reports in Lane County, said total jobs lost in 2010 amounted to 1 percent in Lane County. 

He pointed to some encouraging signs: wood products employment has largely stabilized, and two sectors showing up as bright spots include food processing and business and professional services.

Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz updated the efforts in the Eugene/Springfield Metro-area to boost the economy.  The main Metro-program is the Regional Prosperity Initiative. 

Ruiz said in the past year the program has been able to create 460 construction jobs and 450 permanent jobs.  He also pointed to $83-million in total investment in the Downtown Eugene area.

Keynote speaker Duncan Wyse of the Oregon Business Council outlined the Oregon Business Plan.  It has two overriding goals, creating 25,000 new jobs per year in Oregon for the next 10 years and, in the long term, raising per capita income of Oregon residents at least to the national average.

Wyse said Oregon must also get its "fiscal house in order" with a focus on redesigning state government and services, including school finance and prisons and corrections.