Posted by: Josh Lehner | March 23, 2022

Oregon Usually Grows Faster (Graph of the Week)

Today, Oregon’s economy mirrors the nation during the pandemic. Our employment trends, unemployment rate, income growth and the like are right there with the national averages. This is unusual in the sense that Oregon is typically much more volatile than the U.S. We fall farther in recessions and grow faster in expansions. Given the economy spends many more years in expansion than it does in recession, Oregon usually comes out ahead over the entire cycle. This brings us to the latest edition do the Graph of the Week. Oregon is a small, but rising share of the country. When the lines below are rising, it means Oregon is growing faster than the nation as a whole.

In a way, pretty much all of our socio-economic discussions tie back to this chart. Things like migration and who moves, housing production and prices, industrial structure and wages, household incomes and the like. How do we stack up? Part of the answers lie in the chart above. It shows our stories relative to the national ones. In recent decades that includes Oregon growing a bit faster than the nation.


  1. So reading this our share of jobs and population is growing. However, our share of income and GDP isn’t? That means we’re getting lower avg pay jobs here?

    This kinda makes sense since (unlike PHX) we can’t attract a large well-paying employer in OR. I have my theories, but it’d sound like the ramblings of a bitter old man.

    • The early 80s recession created the divergent patterns. The good news is we closed 2/3 of the income gap last decade! Oregon GDP used to outperform but after a few rounds of historical revisions (black box) it looks like this. The productivity of the tech sector is what changed and I don’t know why exactly. On the to-do list.

  2. I wonder how this will all be measured with remote workers…..where they live or where the HQ location of where they work? Seems this will be a growing trend and I hope to Oregon’s advantage!

    • I think it’ll get sorted out, even if murky today. With WFH being more common, firms will have to report to different states for tax purposes. For now we know it will show up in population and income as those are place based measures.

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