The Economic Outlook

In the past 12 months, Oregon’s unemployment rate has roughly doubled (to nearly 12%) and we’ve lost more than 90,000 jobs.

How did we get in this mess?  Why is Oregon’s unemployment rate higher than the national average?  Doesn’t Oregon always do worse than the national economy in recessions?

These are the questions I’m most commonly about the economy, and I took a stab at answering them in a recent Oregonian column (here).

There’s a tendency for many observers to adopt a “Greek tragedy” view of the economy-that if Oregon is performing worse than the nation (and it is), that this is a sign that the economic gods are punishing us for some transgression.  The truth, is less dramatic, and has a lot to do with the composition of our economy.  And, ironically, Oregon’s current high unemployment rate is in part due to the underlying attractiveness of the state as a place to live.  If more people would leave when the economy went south (or just stop coming in such large numbers) our unemployment rate would be lower.  But would we be better off?