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


Still Burning—Relief for Oregon Wildfire Victims
 
Portland and the Willamette Valley spent last weekend shrouded in a haze of wildfire smoke that stranded people – especially those with breathing and lung problems – indoors and placed a surreal tint over an otherwise sunny weekend. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) classified air quality conditions as ‘Unhealthy’ at 23 of its 33 air quality monitoring stations, with only one out of the 33 stations across the state at ‘Normal’ air quality levels.
 
But a weekend of smoky skies is a minor inconvenience compared to the fights being waged to control forest fires across the west, from Washington and Idaho to California and Nevada.  In Oregon alone, there are almost a dozen current major fires.  The largest of those, the Canyon Creek fire, is leaving particularly significant destruction in its wake.  According to the Grant County Sherriff’s Office, 39 residences were destroyed in the fire’s path, with more than 50 additional structures damaged.  And, over 150 other structures are still threatened.  On Sunday, more than 830 people were fighting the blaze as it spanned 70,000 acres.  The fire has left families homeless and displaced, with others facing impending evacuations and little control over the fates of their homes and possessions.
 
For some of the families who saw their homes decimated by the Canyon Creek fire and Oregon’s other wildfires, the new Wildfire Damage Housing Relief Account, created through a bipartisan bill during Oregon’s 2015 Legislative Session, may provide a glimmer of hope.  The program provides a small grant – $5,000 – for Oregon families that lose their homes from a wildfire.
 
So, how does the Wildfire Damage Housing Relief Account work?
 
Currently, the program is capped at $50,000, allowing for grants to 10 households.  But, due to the large damages from this summer’s wildfires, there is talk of expanding the number of grants allotted when the Legislature meets again during September’s Legislative Days.  Until then, the program will provide grants on a first-come first-serve basis, assuming the applicant meets a few requirements.
 
The Wildfire Damage Housing Relief Account focuses on helping Oregonians with lower incomes who have lost their homes due to wildfire; to qualify, an applicant must have a household income that is 75% or less of the Federal Poverty Level based on the household size.  For instance, a family of four (2015 Federal Poverty Level Household Income: $24,250) with a house destroyed by fire would qualify for the $5,000 grant if it had a household income of $18,188 or less.1
 
Other necessary factors to receive the grant include that the applicant must be an Oregon resident, live primarily in and own the residence damaged by wildfire, and that the household’s residence be uninhabitable unless it is repaired or otherwise replaced.  
 
Households meeting the grant’s criteria have 180 days from the loss of their home to apply for the grant.  Oregon Housing and Community Services, which administers the program, promises to process complete applications and send grant money to homeowners within one month of receiving the completed application.
 
And, the application is short; only two pages plus supporting household income and residence information.  It is available online here
 
The weather forecast is mixed, but hope continues for conditions with light to no wind that help minimize additional opportunities for fire to spread.  The weeks ahead will be difficult for the thousands of firefighters across Oregon as well as the residents living nearby.  
 
As Oregon’s firefighters continue to work to contain the blazes, there are a number of other ways to help these displaced households and communities.  The Red Cross, which had a shelter in John Day until the Canyon Creek fire was contained enough to allow most residents to return to their homes, has a special wildfire relief fund to help displaced households across the west.  In John Day and the surrounding areas, residents are collecting donations of household supplies, food and money for those displaced within their community.  To donate money to the American Red cross, go online to their website.