Portland, Corvallis and Bend areas of the state showed steady job growth through December, according to the State Department of Employment. Unemployment in the Portland area fell from 7.3% in November to 6.7% in December. The national average is 5.6%.
Big high tech job growth in Washington County led the pack of the three metro counties. Having Intel and all the businesses that feed off of it certainly plays a major role.
Here in Lincoln County, we’re stuck in the mid-7’s. We were at 7.7% in November and improved slightly in December to 7.6%. One significant reason brought up by the Oregon Department of Employment is that Lincoln County has consistently much higher gasoline prices than its neighboring counties, especially those that rely on tourism for their economic well being. Yet the state Attorney General’s Office does not agree that illegal price fixing is going on, claiming that the free market is just doing it’s thing. You’d have to stand in a long line to beg to differ with that out-of-town assessment. But at least the Oregon Department of Employment points to higher gas prices are hurting the county’s economy.
One bright spot in Lincoln County’s economic report card is that tourism spending is almost back to where it was just prior to the recession. Of course 2006 dollars do not equal 2015 dollars. And yes it’s been a nearly 7 year recession. The Great Depression was only 5 years. So there’s something ELSE going on in our “modern” economic system since recessions have always been described as short term (less than a year) economic slow downs. Of course, that’s a subject for another news story.
Elsewhere in our region along the Coast, Tillamook improved in December by 3-tenths of a percent over it’s November unemployment rate – today now at 6.1%. Benton County remained at an enviable 5.5% for both November and December.
Lane County’s jobless rate fell from 6.9% down to 6.7%.
Meanwhile, the Bend area, that was brutally hammered by the recession, is showing strong recovery numbers across the board led by construction, healthcare and leisure and hospitality. But since Deschutes County unemployment is still in the mid-7’s, the depth of their precipitous fall in 2008 is still very evident.
Back to the coast – it’s hoped that major economic generators like the new OMSI Discovery Center, the creation of a new satellite Oregon State University facility for undergraduate marine science studies, the completion the Port of Newport’s International Terminal and the Port of Toledo’s now-under-reconstruction of the Yaquina Boatyard will help the Central Coast turn the corner toward a healthier economy.