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.