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
The Oregon economy has always had a very important export industry. Although recently the trend has shifted from logging and forestry exports to being mainly dominated by the high tech manufacturing industry, exports remain an important component of the Oregon economy.

Exports as % of GSP

The Oregon Economy is closely tied with its exports. Almost 10% of all GSP comes from Oregon exports. Although this lags significantly behind Washington's 18%, it remains a significant portion of our total GSP and should be considered an important factor when discussing Oregon's policy towards bringing in and keeping businesses with large export potential.
Export Employment

Export employment shows how much of Oregon's employment is being employed directly by the export market. This percentage does not, however, include all of the employees that work for companies that export from Oregon. If this percentage were to include all employees of companies that export it would be significantly higher. Although Oregon is below Washington in this figure, more employees are employed by exports here than in most of our geographically competitive states, and also the United States as a whole.
Oregon Exports by Sector

Oregon's export market is dominated by the manufacturing sector. Led by the high technology sector which manufactures computer and electronic products, the future of the Oregon export economy will have a large emphasis on the manufacturing sector. Besides agricultural products, that consist of all farming and forestry exports, manufacturing in chemical, machinery, and transportation make up the other large export sectors in the Oregon economy.
Key Sectors


Carbon Tax

Last week, the Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC), based at Portland State University, released its study of the projected impacts of a carbon tax if it were to be imposed in Oregon. Because it is difficult to measure the amount of carbon released in every process, the study assumes the tax would only be applied to energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, which account for an estimated 83% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

The researchers estimated economic results for a variety of carbon tax levels, ranging from $10/ton of CO2 to $150/ton of CO2, and found that each $1/ton of CO2 in tax led to gas price increases of about $0.01 per gallon. Thus, for a mid-range carbon tax level of $60/ton, gas prices would be projected to rise by $0.60 per gallon. Because different regions have different electricity sources, some of which may not produce greenhouse gases, it is more difficult to give a per-unit cost; however, at a carbon tax level of $60/ton, electricity costs might rise by about 10%.

The carbon tax is designed to be revenue neutral, meaning that the tax revenues must be redistributed back to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts or refunds. Revenue from the gas portion of the tax would go to the State Highway Fund, as is mandated by Oregon law. The remainder of the revenue would be split 70%-30% toward corporate and personal income tax cuts. Under some scenarios, the revenue gained from the carbon tax would allow corporate income taxes to be entirely eliminated.

According to NERC’s research, Oregon’s economy would see a noticeable difference in output as the result of the tax; retail and service industries are most impacted, with reductions in jobs and production. For Oregon’s overall economy, NERC predicts a mid-range carbon tax level of $60/ton and a 70%-30% revenue split between corporate and personal income tax cuts will decrease Oregon’s output by 0.5% each year and cut employment by 8,000 jobs. Because more than 80% of CO2 emissions are in the Metro and Valley regions, their local economies would be most affected.

Proponents of a carbon tax in Oregon point out the success of British Columbia’s carbon tax, which was implemented in 2008. However, British Columbia’s electricity production is more than 86% hydroelectric. That is significantly greater than Oregon, where hydroelectric power produces only 75% of electricity. Thus, more of Oregon’s energy relies on carbon-producing processes; the carbon tax will have a wider impact in Oregon than in British Columbia at raising energy prices.

Additionally, all of the taxes analyzed in NERC’s research found that, to have a meaningful impact on carbon reduction, the carbon tax would have to cost between $30/ton and $150/ton. This is greater than British Columbia’s tax, about $26/ton in U.S. dollars. While British Columbia’s overall economy has not faced serious consequences from the tax, it is difficult to know if Oregon’s economy would fare as well with a higher tax.

As legislators consider the possibility of implementing a carbon tax in Oregon, it is important to continue to evaluate its potential benefits, costs, and economic implications.