As mentioned yesterday, there will be a series of posts coming soon that will discuss employment in the different regions of the state, both from a current point of view but also including some historical data back to the 1970s. First, however, the regions need to be defined. Savvy Oregon data users already know about the Oregon Employment Department‘s regional information (click on the map in the upper corner of their homepage), and the forthcoming posts will include information and links to the great resources and reports provided by the Employment Department’s economists and local analysts. For our office’s quarterly forecast document we align the counties in similar groups although they are smaller in number but generally consistent. The map below illustrates these 9 regions.
Expectations are for there to be one post per region that touches on some of the highlights of local employment trends over the past 35 years, however for further analysis and detail the Employment Department provides invaluable content.
Before we get to the regional reports, I just wanted to supplement yesterday’s post which examined where the job gains have been (geographically) in the past couple of years. While jobs and job growth are the number one issue facing the nation (and the state), it is also important to place recent growth, or lack thereof, in more context. Given this series of posts are about the different regions of the state, the following graphs illustrate job loss this recession for each region. These are similar in structure to our standard Oregon return to peak graph which is calculated by business cycles, however these only look at the current cycle (2007 recession). The first graph illustrates the 4 regions that can generally be considered to have performed better than the state overall, while the second graph shows the 5 regions that have underperformed the state overall.
Note that the calculations are based on when each individual region hit peak employment, thus the length/duration of each line is not uniform across regions. For example, the Southern Coast reached peak employment in the summer of 2006, long before the official recession began, hence the region’s employment recession is now in its fifth year, whereas the state overall is just now beginning its fourth year, after reaching peak employment in early 2008.
Overall, employment in nearly all regions has stopped falling, however only the Gorge and Portland MSA have shown continued job gains since reaching bottom. For many of Oregon’s hardest hit areas (central and southern Oregon) there have been no net job gains the past few years after losing more than double-digits, in percentage terms. While expectations are for the state (and the regions) to gradually improve as the nation continues to emerge from the aftermath of the financial crisis, the regions that were hit the hardest and fell the furthest are expected to face an even more difficult climb back to pre-recession employment levels.