Oregon Business Conditions Survey

The Oregon Economic Forum is launching a new project as part of our comprehensive effort to assess the state’s economy.  And we need your help!

We are asking that you participate in a survey designed to track business conditions in Oregon.  This short survey ask questions about business conditions at your firm, in your industry, and in your geographic area.  Quotes from certain open-ended questions may be featured in quarterly publications detailing the results of the survey.

We are looking to build a contact list of firms willing to participate with a goal of launching the first survey by the second quarter of 2015.  If you are interested in participating, please contact me at duy@uoregon.edu.

A sample of the survey is available here – at the end you will have another opportunity to participate.

Thank you for your support of the Oregon Economic Forum and the University of Oregon.

February 2015 Oregon Regional Economic Indicators

The February 2015 Oregon Regional Economic Indexes of  was released today.  Full report is available here.  We thank KeyBank for their generous support of this project.

MedfordChartFeb15

The economic expansion continued across Oregon in February. Highlights of the report include:

Moving average measures of activity – which smooth monthly volatility – indicate that all areas are growing near or above their average pace of activity. Recall that “zero” for these measures indicates relative average growth; each region has its own underlying growth rate.

  • Salem’s measure continues to hover near zero, held down by a low level of building permits and a declining labor force despite solid job growth in the region. Housing permits also remain a drag on the Eugene-Springfield measure. The Rogue Valley region continued its slow climb back to a pace of growth more consistent with past expansions; construction employment made a solid contribution in February.
  • The Central Oregon measure retreated, not unexpected after a spike in January. The underlying trend, however, remains solid with an above average pace of growth. Note that new housing permits made a nearly neutral contribution to the measure.
  • The Portland metro area posted strong numbers once again, maintaining an acceleration in activity that began the latter half of 2014.
  • Low unemployment is evident in that indicator’s positive contributions for all areas, and the low level of initial unemployment claims suggests ongoing job growth is likely to continue throughout the state. Most metro areas are reporting solid housing markets, which should filter through to additional new construction as the year progresses.

Reminder: The regional measures are prone to potentially large swings due to the volatility of some of the underlying data, particularly measures of employment. The moving average measures smooth out much of that volatility.

February 2015 State of Oregon Economic Indicators

The February 2015 State of Oregon Economic Indicators is now available here.  Special thanks to KeyBank for their generous support of this project.

Although the Oregon Measure of Economic Activity dipped in February, underlying trends suggests growth remains above average and similar to that experienced in past expansions. Highlights of the report include:

  • The Oregon Measure of Economic Activity fell to 0.41 in Feburary from 1.10 the previous month. The three-month moving average, which smooths month-to-month volatility in the measure, stood at 0.71, where “zero” for this measure indicates average growth over the 1990-present period.
  • The manufacturing, construction, and household sectors contributed positively to the measure, while the services sector was negative. All manufacturing components were positive; average weekly hours worked in the sector was particularly supportive.
  • Initial unemployment claims, consumer confidence, and unemployment (which declined further) again made positive contributions to the household sector. Note however, that the improvement in the unemployment rate was driven in part by a decline in the labor force, which made a negative contribution to the measure.
  • The University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators gained 0.4% in February for the sixth consecutive months of gains. Initial unemployment claims continue to track at historically low levels while employment services payrolls (mostly temporary help positions) edged down. The low levels of claims suggest job growth will continue at a solid pace.
  • Residential building permits (smoothed) continue to track sideways; new housing construction remains muted and is expected to recover only slowly. The Oregon weight distance tax (a measure of trucking activity) rose. Average hours worked in manufacturing rose although core manufacturing orders have been sluggish in recent months. Consumer sentiment (smoothed) – still supported by lower energy prices – rose again.

The two indicators suggest ongoing growth in Oregon at an above average pace of activity. The ongoing US economic expansion provides sufficient support to expect that Oregon’s economy will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

January 2015 State of Oregon Economic Indicators

The January 2015 State of Oregon Economic Indicators is now available here.  Special thanks to KeyBank for their generous support of this project.

Chart1Jan15

Oregon continues to experience solid economic growth now on par with past expansions. Highlights of the report include:

  • The Oregon Measure of Economic Activity rose to 1.12 in January from 0.62 the previous month. The three-month moving average, which smooths month-to-month volatility in the measure, stood at 0.96, where “zero” for this measure indicates average growth over the 1990-present period.
  • All four major sectors contributed positively to the overall measure. A solid employment gain boosted the manufacturing sector; jobs in that sector grew by 1.2% during the month. Construction employment also contributed positively, although below-normal levels of building permits continue to drag on the measure. Initial unemployment claims, consumer confidence, and unemployment (which declined further) all made positive contributions to the household sector.
  • Service sector employment components were more mixed relative to recent months, but the net effect remains positive. The Oregon Measure of Economic Activity is tracking at levels consistent with past expansions. Employment data, however, is subject to revisions.
  • The University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators gained 0.3% in January; the index has not declined in the past five months. Initial unemployment claims, employment services payrolls (mostly temporary help positions, residential building permits (smoothed), and the Oregon weight distance tax (a measure of trucking activity), were all largely unchanged.
  • Average hours worked in manufacturing and core manufacturing orders both edged upward. Consumer sentiment (smoothed) rose; sentiment has been supported by the recent rapid decline in gasoline prices.

The two indicators suggest ongoing growth in Oregon at an above average pace of activity. The ongoing US economic expansion provides sufficient support to expect that Oregon’s economy will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

Fourth Quarter 2014 Central Oregon Business Index

The Central Oregon Business Index slipped after several quarters of fairly steady gains. The Central Oregon Business Index was at 124.8 (1998=100) during the final quarter of 2014 compared to a revised 125.1 the previous quarter. Compared to the same quarter last year, the COBI is up 3.5 percent. The COBI’s decline this quarter is attributable to some expected declines in a few indicators with very rapid gains in previous quarters and does not indicate a fundamental change in the underlying economy. The recovery in Central Oregon remains intact; expect continued improvement on the back of ongoing growth in the national and state economies.

The full report is available here.

Special thanks to the Bend Bulletin for sponsoring this project.