Friday, September 26, 2014

State of Jefferson: An Economic Perspective

The idea of the "State of Jefferson" goes back nearly as far as Oregon's statehood. Even as far back as the gold rush era of the 1850s, various groups proposed carving territory out of portions of Southern Oregon and Northern California and forming the 51st state, the State of Jefferson. 

While these proposals are long on ardent supporters for their cause, they are often short on analysis of what the State of Jefferson economy might look like. This analysis combines 14 Northern California counties and five Oregon counties that border California to form Jefferson State.

The State of Jefferson territory includes many rural and poorer counties of Southern Oregon and Northern California, and the state would face many economic challenges. 

Here are a few key points:
  • California's Department of Finance says the CA portion of the State of Jefferson receives about $20 million more from the state than it provides.  Proponents of secession say that secession would create new opportunities and funding.
  • The poverty rate in the State of Jefferson territory was 20.3 percent in 2012, higher than California (17.0%) and Oregon (17.0%), as well as the United States (15.9%).
  • Payroll employment in the territory declined 3.3 percent between 2003 and 2013 while payroll in the United States increased 4.8 percent in the same period.
  • Jefferson State's average wage would have been behind all 50 states in 2013.
  • The unemployment rate in the territory was 10.4 percent in 2013, down from a peak of 13.4 percent in 2011. This was higher than all 50 states in 2013.

Analyzing just a few characteristics of the State of Jefferson's economy paints a sobering picture. But there are other factors that are not as easily measured such as the cost of living, wealth of the residents of the region, and quality of life. Many are willing to trade higher salaries and incomes to live in such a beautiful place.

For much more on the history of the State of Jefferson, as well as its current economic situation, read Guy Tauer's full article here: State of Jefferson: An Economic Perspective.

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