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

Oregonís per capita GDP, adjusted for inflation, has been growing fairly consistentlyóand more quickly than both Washington and the U.S.-- over the past 15 years. If this trend continues, Oregon may even pass Washingtonís 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.ís GDP growth rates. Ensuring a strong Oregon economy in the future is crucial to continuing this remarkable pattern of growth.
Household income

Oregonís median household income, adjusted for inflation, has remained relatively steady over the past 15 years and has only recently exceeded the USís 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 Oregonís 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

Oregonís unemployment rate has been consistently higher than both the U.S. and Washingtonís unemployment rates over the past decade. Helping businesses create new jobs is a crucial goal to decrease Oregonís 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 Oregonís 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 Oregonís GDP and its employment.

Export Employment

Oregonís employment is helped by its stronger-than-average export market. While Washington exports account for a larger percentage of jobs than in Oregonís 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

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


What Did the 2015 Oregon Legislature Accomplish?

After one of the most contentious Legislative Sessions in recent history, the 2015 Oregon Legislative Session adjourned last Monday, July 6.  With overwhelming majorities in both the House (35-25) and the Senate (18-12), Democrats planned from the start of Session to begin with several pieces of “unfinished business,” and then move on to a multitude of social, environmental and economic reforms.  And meanwhile, there was the business of running the state.  What did the 2015 Legislature accomplish?  What got left in the dust?  There were important agenda items in both categories:

Health Care and Medicaid Funding:  With very little drama, the Legislature passed a four year extension of the hospital tax.  This extension keeps a key piece of the state’s Medicaid funding package intact, which means low income residents will have continued access to the Oregon Health Plan and other health care subsidies.

K-12 Budget:  Although this budget was passed early in the Session, many lawmakers felt that the funding was insufficient to make progress on Oregon’s stated goal of having 40% of the population achieve at least Bachelor’s degree, 20% achieve an Associate’s degree or certificate, and only 20% with at least a high school degree.

Seismic Upgrades for Schools:  Just before adjournment, the Legislature passed a $1 billion bonding measure that includes $300 million for seismic upgrades and repairs to schools across the state.

Seismic Upgrades for the Oregon Capitol:  A bonding proposal to fund seismic upgrades for the Oregon Capitol failed in the last days of the Session, although Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) suggested that the issue might be revived in 2016.

Low Carbon Fuels Mandate:  Despite warnings from many legislators that that a transportation package would be off the table if the Low Carbon Fuels (LCF) bill passed, the Legislature enacted this bill early in the Session.  Late in Session, attempts to develop a new package that repealed the LCF bill and increased the gas tax ran out of time, and, the Session ended without new transportation funding.

Paid Sick Leave:  One of the Democrats’ highest priorities was passage of a paid sick leave mandate covering all working Oregonians.  AOI and the business community were able to negotiate many improvements to this bill, but it ultimately passed.  Starting January 2016, all employers in Oregon will be required to provide protected paid sick leave to their employees, and those with 10 or more workers (six or more in Portland) will be required to pay employees for that leave.

Minimum Wage:  More than 10 bills raising the state minimum wage or lifting the statewide preemption on local increases were introduced this Session.  None passed, but two are already headed for the ballot for 2016.

Personal Income Tax Kicker:  The kicker was left untouched this Session, and will return roughly $500 million to taxpayers next year.

Marijuana:  At times, the conversation about how to implement Measure 91 (legalized recreational marijuana) seemed to consume all the energy in the Capitol.  Hearings dragged on forever as lawmakers wrestled with timing, regulation of dispensaries, and the impact of the law on Oregon’s current medical marijuana laws.  In the end, legalization took effect on July 15, 2015, and state-approved dispensaries will open in the future.

For more information about bills that passed or failed during the 2015 Legislative Session, see AOI’s Leading Issues “End of Session Wrap up.”