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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

April 14, 2014 at 10:23 AM

In Oregon, digging out of a deep hole | Jon Talton

The Great Recession hit Oregon harder than any other state in the Northwest. Demand for durable goods plunged. The same happened for the state’s timber sector as housebuilding collapsed. And areas such as Bend were epicenters of overbuilding.

Unemployment went from 5.2 percent in early 2008 to a peak of 11.6 percent in 2009. In February, it had declined statewide to 6.9 percent. That was still two-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national number. Washington’s preliminary rate was 6.4 percent.

Improvement has come fastest in the Portland metro area, at 6.4 percent in February.

But regular readers here know the “official” unemployment rate can be a highly imperfect way to measure the labor market. It doesn’t account for part-timers who want full-time jobs or for discouraged workers. The rate doesn’t tell us about the plight of the long-term unemployed.

So check out this “spider chart” from the ever-helpful Oregon Office of Economic Development (based on a national model from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta):

oregonspiderfeb14

It takes a minute to get one’s bearings. But the lines mark several indicators of the labor market at its pre-recession peak, the worst of the downturn, then recovering in February 2013 and February 2014. Every metric has shown improvement, including over the past year. But the damage remains substantial.

If someone does such a chart for Washington, email me at jtalton@seattletimes.com

And Don’t Miss: For Hillary Clinton and Boeing, a mutually beneficial relationship | Washington Post

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Funds turned off tech stocks

Rotation killed momentum

Bubbles shorted out

Comments | More in Pacific Northwest economy | Topics: Oregon econom

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