Friday, June 24, 2011

A slow recovery may be easy to miss

In May, Oregon saw a seasonally adjusted monthly gain of 1,300 nonfarm payroll jobs; statewide employment gains totaled 20,300 over the previous year. Oregon's unemployment rate dropped 1.6 percentage points from May 2010 to May 2011, and the state's 9.3 percent rate now sits closer to the U.S. rate than any month since March 2008 (the two rates were last equal in April 1996).

However, monthly employment gains have dropped to modest levels compared to the seasonally adjusted increases of 6,700 and 9,700 seen in January and February. Despite recent improvements, unemployment here and nationally remain far above pre-recession levels. We've also seen some less than enthusiastic reports on the recovery in Oregon and the U.S. from the latest University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators, initial unemployment claims, and others.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the national recession ended in June 2009. Oregon doesn't have an official body that designates the beginning and ending dates of recessions, but the state's employment bottomed out in December 2009 and has been growing, slowly, ever since. The current recovery is taking longer than most would prefer, but each month things are looking better - even if the incremental improvements are small.

However, the recovery is taking place so slowly that many Oregon business owners are wondering if it is occurring at all. According to an Oregon Public Broadcasting report on the newly-released 2011 U.S. Bank survey, 80 percent of the Oregon business owners surveyed indicated they thought the nation was currently in a recession. Furthermore, 70 percent of respondents viewed Oregon's economic condition as weaker than the U.S. economy overall. In fact, only 20 percent of respondents reported that revenues were higher this year compared to last year and just 43 percent believe their revenues will be higher next year compared to this year.

So why do these business owners believe we're still in a recession? The OPB report cites rising commodity prices and weak overall sales as two possible reasons. Small business owners aren't alone in their opinion on the recession either. Data from a February Portland Business Alliance survey found that just 16 percent of registered voters in the Upper Willamette Valley think we're in a recovery while 56 percent think we are currently experiencing a mild recession, severe recession, or depression.

What do you think? Do you feel like Oregon is still in recession, or has the recovery taken hold in your local area? What about your industry - is business looking up, or not?Link

1 comment:

George E. Bourguignon, Jr. Attorney at Law said...

The economy is sick. Whether we are in a "recession" can be interpreted a few ways. Of course you have the technical defiintion, but whether business is less than usual is really the most common definition people think of. With that in mind, it is not surprising that this informative post says most people say yes.