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Oregon’s Economy is Looking Up

Governor Kate Brown Statement on May Revenue Forecast

(Portland, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today issued the following statement on the state’s May revenue forecast:

“Today’s revenue forecast indicates that we are continuing to see strength in Oregon’s economy as we round the curve to recovery from the pandemic. Strong state revenues, coupled with an unemployment rate that is back down to pre-pandemic levels, should be welcome news for Oregonians.

“However, I know that not all Oregonians are feeling these positive effects, especially given rising costs of living. The good news is that the continued strength in the economy will allow the legislature to look at additional one-time investments in the coming budget cycle—like those we’ve recently made in housing, behavioral health, and child care—to further spur growth and support working families, so that all Oregonians see and feel the benefits of our economic bounce back.

“Even with revenue growth, it is still important that we proceed with caution and plan for the future. Strong leadership in Oregon has led the state to a place where we have ample reserves to help us weather unprecedented times. We need to continue that forward-looking leadership as we head into the next budget cycle.”

Information on today’s revenue forecast is available on the Oregon Legislative Information System.

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Edges Down to 3.7% in April

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Edges Down to 3.7% in April

Oregon’s unemployment rate edged down to 3.7% in April, from 3.8% in March, reaching its lowest level in more than two years. The rate is now close to Oregon’s record low of 3.4% which occurred in each of the four months of November 2019 through February 2020. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6% in both March and April 2022.

Throughout the past two years, Oregon and the nation have experienced similar trends as their economies and labor markets have recovered from the pandemic recession. Both saw their unemployment rates spike to unusual highs of more than 13% by April 2020, followed by a drop to below 7% six months later. For the past 21 months, Oregon’s unemployment rate has been within a half percentage point of the U.S. unemployment rate.

Payroll employment trends have also been similar for Oregon and the U.S., with both losing roughly 14% of payroll jobs between February and April 2020, then recovering roughly a third of those jobs three months later, followed by a more gradual recovery leading up to April 2022. However, Oregon has slightly lagged the U.S. jobs recovery overall, with the U.S. adding back 95% of jobs lost during the pandemic-induced recession, while Oregon has only recovered 88% of the jobs.

In April, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4,200 jobs, following a revised gain of 7,000 jobs in March. Over-the-month gains were largest in health care and social assistance (+1,800 jobs), manufacturing (+1,300), and professional and business services (+1,300). The only major industry to cut at least 1,000 jobs was other services (-1,000 jobs).

Professional and business services has grown rapidly and consistently over the past two years. In April, employment reached 261,700, another record high for the industry. Recent revisions to the jobs tallies boosted the past six months’ employment upward by about 3,000 above original estimates.

County Commissioners covered a lot of ground today…

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners tackled earthquakes, ambulance services and a little bit of Climate Change and the weather shifts it poses.

Off the top, it’s not news that a very strong earthquake could happen any day along the northwest Oregon Coast.  Seismologists and geologists have closely tracked off-shore earthquake history.  Research shows the intervals between earthquakes average between 200 to 350 years.  And we’re due.  County officials have been putting together plans so that when a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake pushes the ground around people will know how to ride it out and to help their families and nearby neighbors. 

County officials are assembling information for distribution to Lincoln County families and other residents to prepare themselves to ride-out an earthquake with minimal injuries to people.  There will be lots of rescue operations in the event of a 9.5 Cascadia Richter shaker.  Most earthquakes range from a 3.5 Richter to a high of 7 Richter scale.  On the Oregon Coast those Cascadia Subduction Zone shakers can be massive – up to 9.5 Richter.  So be very, very prepared.  Information is available on the internet at:   https://www.oregon.gov/oem/hazardsprep/Pages/Cascadia-Subduction-Zone.aspx

On a lighter note…two ambulance companies competed for providing medical services in Lincoln County.  The winning company was the company that already provides those services – Pac West.  Their competition during the supervisors deliberations between the two was easy – long time running ambulance services Pac West got the contract.  The other ambulance company already covers a large area of the state.  Pac West’s contract renewal kicks in on July 1st.

Sen. Ron Wyden: “America is at a turning point…”

Sen. Ron Wyden
D-Oregon

Our country is at a turning point. This November, the American people have a clear choice on the ballot: turn back the clock on Americans’ fundamental rights, or build on the progress we’ve made and protect these rights for generations to come.

I am honored to have been chosen as the Democratic nominee to run for U.S. Senate in the state of Oregon. I have spent my time in Congress fighting tirelessly to level the playing field for working families and hold special interests and corporations accountable – but our work isn’t done yet.

Right-wing dark money is already pouring into our state, and as long as Republicans think there’s a chance to put Mitch McConnell back in power, every Senate seat is in play.

Our movement is fighting to make sure the people of Oregon continue to embrace our progressive, community-focused vision for our state and for our country’s future.

But things can change quickly, especially when SuperPACs are lurking in the weeds  just waiting to drop tens of millions of dollars to push the “lie of the week.”

Republicans have made it clear as day that if they take back control of our country they’ll do everything in their power to impose their dangerous, outdated, and extremist policies. The right to privacy, the right to an abortion, the right to marry who you love, the right to use contraception—the right to live your life free of government intrusion is on-the-line in this election.

There’s so much at stake, but I have hope. Hope that our grassroots movement will expand our Democratic majority in Congress so we can get to back work on priorities that matter to all working families and for our country.

Senator Ron Wyden

Academia is taking a closer look at western ecosystems – growing conditions are changing…

CORVALLIS, Ore. – New research led by an Oregon State University scientist provides the first long-term study of methods to control the spread of wildfire in the sagebrush steppe ecosystem that dominates parts of the western United States.  In recent years, the number, size and intensity of wildfires in the sagebrush ecosystem – which spans much of Nevada, Oregon and Utah, and portions of California, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming – have significantly increased primarily due to climate change and the spread of invasive grasses.

Researchers studied several methods for decreasing fire intensity. They found application of herbicides had few long-term benefits; prescribed fire reduced the fire behavior metrics they tracked but led to more invasive grasses; and mechanical thinning reduced most fire behavior metrics without increasing invasive grasses as significantly.   “It’s a pretty spectacular ecosystem, but it’s incredibly fragile,” said Lisa Ellsworth, lead author of the study and a range ecologist in Oregon State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “It was named as one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America because it is so fragile and is so impacted by climate change and by invasive species and by changing fire regimes.”

Ellsworth and scientists and managers from the federal Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Idaho and Utah State University collaborated on a 10-year study of different methods to control fire in the ecosystem. Their findings were published today in the journal Ecosphere.  Publication of the research coincides with an effort by the Bureau of Land Management to construct and maintain fuel breaks along 435 miles of roads in sagebrush habitat in southeast Oregon, southwest Idaho and northern Nevada. The project is expected to take 10 to 15 years to complete.  Ellsworth hopes the research can help inform the Bureau of Land Management project.

“I feel the pressure of time in these systems,” she said. “We need to be implementing strategies that preserve our good condition sagebrush steppe areas and get ahead of this invasive grass and fire feedback cycle that we’re in.”

The research aims to address a gap in knowledge about the long-term effects of using different methods to reduce fire-induced losses in sagebrush ecosystems.  Historically, wildfire was estimated to occur every 50 to 100 years in this ecosystem because native plants grow slowly and are spread out, which limits the ability of fire to quickly spread. That historical cycle has been substantially disrupted due to the rise of invasive annual grasses, which cover more of the landscape and dry out more quickly than native grasses, facilitating the ignition and spread of more fire. This has resulted in fire frequencies that more than double historical averages.

The just-published study focused on fuel treatments, activities that reduce or redistribute burnable material with the ultimate goal of decreasing fire intensity. The researchers studied three fuel treatments: herbicide application, prescribed fire and mechanical thinning, ormowing, which involves removing the top growth of sagebrush and other shrubs.

They then used a fire modeling program to test how the different treatments impacted fire behavior. They studied three fire behavior metrics: rate of spread, flame length and reaction intensity, a measure of the amount of heat per unit area of fire.

The study included six sites, ranging in size from about 50 acres to 200 acres, in five states: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. They are all part of the Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP), which started in 2005 to evaluate methods to restore the ecosystem in the Great Basin. (more…)

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