Oregon has recovered the number of jobs lost during the pandemic, led by high tech, housing and professional services, but the hospitality, education and health care sectors have failed to replace all workers who left those fields. (Quinton Smith/Yacht News)
Oregon’s governor doesn’t have much control over the larger economic forces that determine whether the state’s economy booms or busts.
“Mahonia Hall is not going to set monetary policy,” said Betsy Johnson, one of the potential candidates to move into the governor’s mansion after the November election.
This is real. But the governor’s policies could help Oregon and its 4.2 million people weather the economic storm — or make the most of the good times.
The governor serves a four-year term—eight years if she is re-elected. One of Oregon’s leading economic advisers believes the next governor may have enough time to look beyond the peaks and troughs of the business cycle in an effort to prepare the state for a long-term prosperity.
Oregon’s next governor will need to pay close attention to trends that could fundamentally change the state’s economy, for better or worse, said John Tapogna, senior policy adviser at ECONorthwest, an independent economic consulting firm in Portland. bad, will have an impact on future generations.
Radical changes are nothing new to Oregon’s economy. Over the past three decades, the state has shifted from a natural resource base to manufacturing and marketing with a focus on high technology — particularly in the three city-counties in the Portland metro area.
But the state’s more rural counties — still closely tied to agriculture and natural resources like lumber — haven’t always gotten a slice of the economic boom.
Oregon’s economy remains closely tied to the global and U.S. economies. Oregon is one of the most trade-dependent states of any U.S. state — for the Pacific Rim and others. That helps explain why Oregon may be particularly vulnerable during a national or global recession.
“When we go down, we go down a lot,” Taponia said. “When we go up, we grow faster.”
It took Oregon 30 months to return to the number of jobs it had before the pandemic hit in early 2019. The national and Oregon unemployment rate is now 3.7%, down from 13.3% at the peak of the pandemic.
But the jobs recovery has been uneven — in favor of high tech, professional and technical services, and just about everything related to homes and housing. The weakest rebounds were in healthcare, education and hospitality.
As usual, the jobs recovery has fallen on both sides of the urban-rural divide in Oregon. The fastest job gains last year were in the Portland five-county area, central Oregon and the Willamette Valley, according to the Oregon Employment Department. Lagging behind was job growth along the coast and in southern and eastern Oregon.
If the U.S. deals with inflation, state economists see a 50-50 chance of a mild recession in the U.S., which will definitely affect Oregon.
Tapogna is watching other trends that could herald major changes in Oregon’s economy.
One of them, he said, is that Oregon has more deaths than births, so if the state’s population is going to grow, it’s going to be people choosing to move to Oregon.
“The governor really needs to step back and say, ‘What’s helping or hurting the attractiveness of this state?'”
Tapogna’s top priority is dealing with unaffordable housing “and the associated homelessness crisis that comes with it”. In two terms, the governor “could do a lot in terms of housing tone and setting policy,” he said.
Tapogna said the next governor may work to expand broadband internet coverage throughout Oregon — especially in rural areas. Services such as telehealth can play an important role in enabling rural residents to age in place with confidence in their ability to receive adequate health care. Businesses across the state need fast and reliable internet service.
Another factor that determines Oregon’s ability to attract newcomers is the quality of its schools. Taponia said he believes the next governor will have to focus on students, schools and teachers, “who, like healthcare workers, are on the front lines and under tremendous pressure.”
Another trend – Oregon’s overall taxation rose from the middle of the U.S. state to the top quartile. That doesn’t necessarily deter newcomers, Tapogna said, especially if those taxes are used to pay for popular and good government services.
This lays the foundation. How will the leading candidate for Oregon governor act? Here’s what they say:
Republican Kristin Derazan
(Editor’s note: Tina Kotek and Betsy Johnson agreed to be interviewed separately by the six reporters who contributed to the project. Christine Drazan declined. This section is based on her statement and her record.)
Republican candidate Christina Drazan told The Oregonian/Oregon Live that she would block future tax increases, blaming the state’s gas tax and its new corporate activity tax for driving up prices in the state.
Responding to questions from the Oregon Capital Chronicle, Drazan said Oregon’s corporate activity tax “makes businesses large and small less competitive in global and regional markets and forces consumers to pay higher for everyday goods and services. price.” She voted against the tax in the legislature and said she would veto the bill.
In a questionnaire she filled out for Oregonians, she wrote that she was “committed to vetoing new tax increases and eliminating overly onerous government regulations and mandates that further drive up costs to Oregonians. My election as governor eliminated the The one-party control that has exacerbated our state’s affordability crisis over the past decade.”
Drazan has said her administration will “support natural resource-based industries, such as the lumber industry in rural Oregon, to make this economic engine part of our state’s future, not just the past. That means recognizing that Many of the policies passed in Salem are directly related to the decline of rural Oregon.” She cited the recent legislation enacting to force overtime pay for certain agricultural workers as an example, and said she would veto the bill.
In the Capital Chronicle questionnaire, Drazan said, “Oregon’s reputation as an anti-business state is well-deserved. Our taxes are too high,[and]our regulatory environment is increasingly complex and difficult to navigate.”
Tina Kotke, Democrat
Kotek said in the interview that she will address the labor shortage that is plaguing employers across the state, and one way to address it is to work with community colleges on vocational training programs. Community colleges tend to be an “afterthought” when it comes to state funding, she said, but added: “I’m going to put them first because we know what community colleges mean to Oregon communities, whether it’s rural, urban and Suburbs, I want to support them 110 percent.”
The shortage of affordable housing for workers is also an economic issue, Kotek said: “When people don’t have a place to live, it drags down our ability to grow.” She has said she will issue an executive order on the first day of her term. , to accelerate the pace and scale of housing development across the state.
Lawmakers have set aside reserves to help the state weather a potential recession, she said. But she added that despite inflation and a possible recession, it’s important that the state has effective programs in place to help Oregonians stay afloat.
“Make sure people can get rent assistance, make sure people can get food assistance, make sure people can get help with childcare. … Those programs we have, they have to work well.”
Expanding childcare is crucial, she said. “I think it’s going to help employers who want people back to work. It’s really hard if someone can’t find childcare.”
Kotek said the next governor will need to focus on all sectors of the state’s economy, whether urban or rural. Expanding broadband internet service into rural Oregon is key to economic growth there, she said.
She vowed to work with the state’s natural resource industry, which is so important to rural Oregon. “The biggest issue is making sure we’re doing everything we can to help the natural resource sector remain resilient in the face of climate change,” she said.
Betsy Johnson, Non-affiliated
Johnson said in an interview that she would be a “cheerleader” for economic development.
Johnson said she will work to make the Oregon Business Bureau, Oregon’s business development agency, more responsive to the needs of businesses and local agencies that also deal with economic development.
The state government has a reputation for being anti-business, she said. “I’ve recently spoken to a lot of companies fleeing Oregon because they can’t stand how difficult it is to do business here,” she said. “I’ve witnessed the confrontation of business in the legislature.”
She said her goal was to make the state a “business-friendly” place. She said state governments and legislatures “are important to create a stable business environment because the one thing businesses need most is reliability and predictability.”
The next governor, Johnson said, must work to ensure state agencies that work with businesses are “flexible and responsive. I don’t care if you do wood chips, silicon chips, chips or fish and chips. We have different economies. They all face specific challenges.”
In addition to being more welcoming to business, the state government should also help emerging economic sectors such as craft brewing and distillation, she said. “I just don’t think the state is responsive, welcoming and optimistic about retaining and recruiting businesses.”
Johnson said her record is testament to her credentials in economic development: “I believe I have achieved remarkable results in economic development in terms of creating jobs and opportunities for the people I have the privilege of representing.”
Johnson has also advocated for national fiscal discipline, especially if the national economy slips into recession, and she said lawmakers were wise to set up a rainy day fund. She said she would advocate for an increase in the state’s reserves, “especially with the whispers of a looming recession.”
Editor’s Note: The story is part of a gubernatorial campaign newsroom collaboration, with each of the six newsrooms tackling positions on a key topic from Republican Kristin Delazan, unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson and Democrat Tina Kotek. The Mail Tribune wrote about abortion, the Albany Herald Democrat wrote about wildfires and drought; Ashland News covered health care, including mental health; Oregon Capital Chronicle covered housing, Salem reporter Covering education and Yachats news Wrote articles on the economy and cost of living.
SB 139 (2021 regular session), adopted
Eliminate tax deductions for pass-through businesses with annual profits greater than $5 million.Resale business is not subject to corporate tax, but is taxed as personal income tax
HB 3389 (2021 regular session), through
Offers businesses affected by tax increases due to layoffs during the pandemic to defer or exempt some taxes from 2021.
- Kotek — yes (regular sponsor)
HB 2975 (2019 regular session), passed
Oregon’s kicker tax rebate fell by $108 million. Larger tax refunds occur when state tax revenue exceeds expectations by more than 2% and the state must return the money to taxpayers.
Source: Alexis Weisend, University of Oregon Catalyst Journalism Project