Oregon Economy
Oregon has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation. With important and growing industries in manufacturing, apparel, and green technologies, Oregon has a solid base in vital markets that will continue to enrich the economy moving forward.

Per capita GDP

Oregons per capita GDP, adjusted for inflation, has been growing fairly consistentlyand more quickly than both Washington and the U.S.-- over the past 15 years. If this trend continues, Oregon may even pass Washingtons per capita GDP in the future.
GDP Growth

Real GDP growth in Oregon has been quite volatile, but, in all but the worst of the 2009 recession, GDP growth has remained positive. It has also generally exceeded Washington and the U.S.s GDP growth rates. Ensuring a strong Oregon economy in the future is crucial to continuing this remarkable pattern of growth.
Household income

Oregons median household income, adjusted for inflation, has remained relatively steady over the past 15 years and has only recently exceeded the USs real median household income. However, Oregon still trails Washington in this statistic.
Oregon Employment
Oregon's unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country; one of Oregons biggest problems right now is that so many of its workers are out of work. However, overall unemployment has been slowly decreasing, and it is important to see where jobs are located in the economy and what industries have the highest potential for employment growth.

Unemployment

Oregons unemployment rate has been consistently higher than both the U.S. and Washingtons unemployment rates over the past decade. Helping businesses create new jobs is a crucial goal to decrease Oregons unemployment.
Top 5 Industries for Oregon Employment

Oregon has many different industries driving its vibrant economy. Many Oregon jobs are within the healthcare and retail industries, but manufacturing, government, and food and lodging are also crucial for keeping Oregonians employed. Beyond these top-5 industries, many Oregonians are also employed in the production and distribution of durable goods as well as with financial-related occupations.
Oregon employment by business size

More than half of Oregons workers are employed by companies with fewer than 100 employees, and over a quarter are employed by companies with fewer than 20 employees. As policymakers continue to adjust employment regulations, it is important to consider the many small businesses that employ the majority of Oregonians.
Oregon Exports
Exports have always been a crucial sector of the Oregon economy. Although recently major exports have shifted from logging and forestry to high tech manufacturing and related industries, exports still remain an important component of the Oregon economy and play an important role in both Oregons GDP and its employment.

Export Employment

Oregons employment is helped by its stronger-than-average export market. While Washington exports account for a larger percentage of jobs than in Oregons exports do, Oregon still has a larger portion of jobs associated with exports than California and the US as a whole.
Oregon Exports by Sector

Oregons export industry is particularly strong in computers and electronics manufacturing, and agriculture also plays an important role.
Key Sectors


Legislators Prepare for High-Stakes Session

The 2017 Oregon Legislature met for the first time this week during Organizational Days, a pre-session gathering where Legislators officially receive their assignments, bills get a first reading and the Governor gives an inaugural speech. By design, the activities rarely produce surprises, but they do provide a road map to the session, which likely will be dominated by a handful of difficult issues. Here are some of the things for Oregon employers and workers to watch:

The Budget

Adopting a balanced budget is the most basic function of state government, but that doesn’t mean it’s the easiest task. With a gap of more than $1.7 billion between anticipated revenues and the cost of maintaining existing services, the budget gap and the negotiations necessary to close it will set the tone for the Session.

As has been the case in the past, Democratic Governor Kate Brown offered only vague generalities when discussing how the state should address its budget problem. "Under my direction, my office will work with stakeholders on potential options to generate the revenue we need so badly," Brown said in her inaugural speech.

In contrast to some recent speeches, she did acknowledge the Public Employee Retirement Systems (PERS) role in helping to create the budget imbalance. "We must address the ongoing PERS liability in a way that keeps our promises to retirees and does not put us back on an endless hamster wheel of litigation," she said. She did not offer any suggestions of how that might be accomplished.

The budget process inevitably will force a discussion about ways to increase revenues. Already, public employee unions and Democratic Legislators have floated a variety of potential tax increases, ranging from higher cigarette taxes to elimination of tax credits to a slightly slimmed down version of the Measure 97 tax proposal that voters overwhelmingly rejected.   

Transportation Package

Beyond the budget, the need for a transportation-funding package might be the point of greatest agreement entering the 2017 Session. But it will be no easier to assemble than the budget, and probably harder. After all, it isn’t constitutionally required, as a balanced budget is.

The joint committee trying to manufacture a deal faces challenges on two fronts: reaching agreement on funding and on which projects to fund. Some Legislators already have started making cases for projects important to their districts. The list of requests is almost certain to be longer than what the state can afford with even an ambitious funding package. Legislators have pledged to keep negotiations public, adding to the potential for drama.

To read more on areas of agreement and disagreement, read this previous Prosperity Project article.

Workplace Regulations

Workplace mandates, including paid sick leave and the new Oregon State Retirement Plan, were a primary focus of the 2015 and 2016 Legislative Sessions. This Session brings more proposed workplace legislation, including paid family leave and possibly equal pay requirements and scheduling restrictions. Prosperity Project will analyze these issues in more detail in a future article.