Posted by: Josh Lehner | November 1, 2012

Oregon Regional Employment, Revisions

Just as the national and state level employment data is revised once per year, so is the local county and metro level data. Using the same general process as the Oregon preliminary benchmark and other state benchmark estimates discussed before, yields an estimate of how the various regions within the state are doing. What follows below are two looks at Oregon’s regions. First are preliminary benchmark estimates for the 6 official MSAs in the state, followed by growth rate comparisons for the 9 regions of the state (our office’s regional definitions.)

Overall there are mixed results across the regions in terms of both economic performance and also expected employment revisions. While we know that Portland is leading the way in terms of growth in the state, a few of the other MSAs are also doing a bit better and expectations are for upward revisions to their data. In particular, Corvallis, Eugene and Salem all fit this pattern as seen below in the graphs. The fact that other areas outside of the Portland MSA are beginning to share in the recovery is highly encouraging. The work previously published by our office showed that growth outside Portland was actually negative since the recession ended, however that is beginning to change in the first half of 2012. Salem’s employment is holding fairly steady but positive in the past few months instead of continuing to decline. Eugene has actually added a couple thousand jobs instead of none and Corvallis is nearly back to pre-recession levels instead of languishing halfway.

Where the state continues to see no real improvement in terms of job counts is in the rest of the state outside of these already mentioned MSAs. Bend, Medford and the rest of the state are continuing to bounce along the bottom while neither losing more jobs nor gaining any on a continued and sustained basis.

A full-fledged recovery in the state obviously would include all regions and moving forward expectations are for more areas of the state to continue to improve as the economic expansion matures. In particular the two main drags on the recovery to date (housing and government) are beginning to lessen. The housing market is clearly showing signs of life and given that Bend and Medford experienced the state’s two largest bubbles and busts, this is good news. Also, state and local governments are seeing increases in revenues. While this revenue growth is not as strong as they are used to and not strong enough to keep up with the cost of services and personnel, it does make budget decisions a little easier than if revenues were declining, obviously. As these two main drags lessen, overall economic growth is expected to pick up.

Finally, while the above work pertains to the state’s official MSAs, it does not cover each region of the state individually. Below are comparisons of the monthly employment estimates from the payroll survey (CES) and the quarterly census of employment and wages (QCEW). The QCEW has a broader scope and is generally viewed to be a more accurate count of employment as it is based on employees covered by the unemployment insurance system, however due to it’s size and scope, it is less timely than the sample-based monthly payroll survey and is published with a lag. After revisions, the monthly CES tends to look more like the QCEW data. Just a reminder that our office’s regional groupings look like this:

These first four regions have seen some divergence between the CES and QCEW employment counts, at least in terms of private sector growth.

While these other regions have very similar patterns for both CES and QCEW growth.


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