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.

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.

December 2014 Oregon Regional Economic Indexes

The December 2014 Oregon Regional Economic Indexes of  was released today.  Full report is available here.  We thank KeyBank for their generous support of this project.

EugeneChartDec14

December was another strong month for most regional economies in Oregon. Highlights of the report include:

  • Moving average measures of activity – which smooth monthly volatility – indicate that all nearly areas are growing near or above their average pace of activity, with only the Salem area somewhat below normal growth. Recall that “zero” for these measures indicates relative average growth; each region has its own underlying growth rate.
  • Residential building activity continues to be a drag in most regions, with a particularly weak number for Salem. Still, the positive contributions in the Portland metro and Bend regions suggest that gains in new residential construction are slowing taking hold. Moreover, solid numbers in residential sales suggest that construction activity will accelerate, especially as population is expected to increase in Oregon.
  • Employment indicators remain generally supportive across all regions. Initial unemployment claims point to further broad-based employment gains in the months ahead. Waste collection added positively in regions with available data; improvements in economic activity coupled with increased population have typically been associated with rising waste generation.
  • In general, with the exception of residential construction, activity in most areas is increasingly similar to that seen in past economic expansions.

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.

December 2014 State of Oregon Economic Indicators

The December 2014 State of Oregon Economic Indicators is now available here.  Special thanks to KeyBank for their generous support of this project.

Chart1Dec14

Oregon experienced another month of solid economic activity in December. Highlights of the report include:

  • The Oregon Measure of Economic Activity mostly held the gains of the previous month to stay above 1.0. The three-month moving average, which smooths month-to-month volatility in the measure, rose to 0.98, where “zero” for this measure indicates average growth over the 1990-present period.
  • Manufacturing data remains generally positive, while residential building permits – still the weak spot in this recovery – made a negative contribution to the measures. Initial unemployment claims and consumer confidence both supported the household sector, the latter likely driven higher by the decline in gas prices.
  • The University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators gained 0.2% in December. Initial unemployment claims continue to move sideways at very low levels consistent with continued job growth while employment services payrolls (mostly temporary help positions) partially reversed November’s decline.
  •  Residential building permits (smoothed), the Oregon weight distance tax (a measure of trucking activity), average hours worked in manufacturing, and core manufacturing orders were all largely unchanged.

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.

November 2014 State of Oregon Economic Indicators

The November 2014 State of Oregon Economic Indicators is now available here.  Special thanks to KeyBank for their generous support of this project.

Chart1Noc14

Oregon’s economy improved further in November. Highlights of the report include:

  • Strong contributions from employment components drove the Oregon Measure of Economic Activity sharply higher in November. The three-month moving average, which smooths month-to-month volatility in the measure, rose to 0.60, where “zero” for this measure indicates average growth over the 1990-present period. All four major sectors contributed positively to the overall measure.
  • The household sector gained on strong performances from initial unemployment claims, the labor force, and gains in the stock market and consumer confidence. Employment improved broadly within the services sector, with a particularly solid contribution from the trade, transportations and utilities component.
  • The University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators gained 0.3% in November. In general, the UO Index has tracked sideways in recent months; this is typical behavior during a more mature expansion.
  • The level of initial unemployment claims fell to a record low (since 1993), indicative of strong economic activity underpinning employment. Employment services payrolls retreated from a large gain the previous month, but the general uptrend remains intact.
  • Residential building permits (smoothed) and the Oregon weight distance tax (a measure of trucking activity) were largely unchanged while consumer confidence rose. Average hours worked in manufacturing continues to hover around 40, consistent with normal levels for economic expansions. New orders for core manufactured capital goods (an often volatile measure) were unchanged.

The two indicators suggest continued growth in Oregon at an above average pace of activity. Further gains are likely as the national economy will continue its general upward trajectory for the foreseeable future.

October 2014 Oregon Regional Economic Indexes

The October 2014 Oregon Regional Economic Indexes of  was released today.  Full report is available here.  We thank KeyBank for their generous support of this project.

SalemChartOct14

October measures of economic activity were generally solid across all regions in Oregon. Highlights of the report include:

  • Moving average measures of activity – which smooth monthly volatility – indicate that the Portland Metro, Eugene-Springfield, Salem and Central Oregon regions are growing near or above their average paces of activity, while the Rogue Valley is just somewhat below normal growth.
  • Residential housing sales were strong throughout the state in October, although that activity still is not translating into widespread gains in new residential construction. Residential permits contributed positively to the Portland metro figures, nearly neutral in Central Oregon, and sharply negatively in the Rogue Valley and Salem areas.
  • Employment indicators were generally supportive with most sectors contributing positively. In addition, the unemployment rate and civilian labor force now yield a neutral to positive impact across all measures.
  • Also note that low levels of unemployment claims are adding significant contributions to the measures and are indicative of continued strong job growth. In general, conditions across the state continue to improve as the recovery broadens and deepens throughout more sectors of the economy.

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.