Posted by: Josh Lehner | March 12, 2014

South Coast Update

This post continues with our regular series on the regions within Oregon. In our March quarterly forecast publication, we profiled the South Coast and Southern Oregon. For more, see the regional tab at the top of the page.

Much like the rest of the state, the South Coast has experienced two severe recessions – the early 1980s and the Great Recession – and two mild ones – 1990 and 2001 – over the past 40 years. The key difference is the extent, severity and duration of the early 1980s recession in Coos County. That recession, tied to the restructuring of the timber industry at the same time the Federal Reserve raised interest rates into double digits to choke off inflation, was the single worst regional recession on record in Oregon’s history. On net the South Coast did not fully regain the total number of lost jobs from the early 1980s recession until 1996, some 17 years after employment peaked in 1979.


Even with the major shakeup in the region in the early 1980s, the local economy continues to restructure to this day. Reliance on natural resource industries (both timber and fishing) continues to decline, as the importance of retirement income and tourism grows, adding jobs in retail, health care and leisure and hospitality in particular.


Like the rest of the state, the vast majority of the region’s migrants come from California. In terms of relative size, Californians overwhelmingly choose to live in Southern Oregon and on the South Coast. Approximately half of these California migrants to Coos and Curry Counties come from the greater Los Angeles area or San Diego. The other half come from Northern California (excluding the Bay Area) or the Central Valley. Hardly any come from the Bay Area itself. In terms of migration off the South Coast, the region losses population to the rest of Oregon – mainly to the Willamette Valley, but not to the Salem metro in recent years – and a little bit to Washington state – almost all to Clark County, with small gains from elsewhere in the state. See here for more on migration.


Shown but not discussed in the document is the importance of housing and government to the local economy. As our office has pointed out numerous times, these industries tend to play a disproportionately large role in our rural economies and as these industries do well, so too does the region as a whole. This is certainly the case on the South Coast.


For more information on the South Coast, please see the Oregon Employment Department website for the great work that regional economist Guy Tauer does.


  1. Hi Josh,

    Great analysis and I really appreciate the shout-out at the end!

    Have a great day.

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