June 2020 Oregon Statewide Economic Indicators

This is the University of Oregon State of Oregon Economic Indicators for June 2020. The release date is August 4, 2020. Special thanks to our sponsor, KeyBank.

Link to full report (with charts!) here.

The Oregon Measure of Economic Activity rose in June to 0.41 from a downwardly revised -0.23 in May. Despite the gain over the past two months, the moving average measure, which smooths out the volatility, stands at -4.56, mired deep below average growth for the Oregon economy (0.0 on this scale). Highlights of the report include: Continue Reading

Oregon Regional Mobility Leveling Off

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An inability to get updated data has delayed the latest release of the Regional Economics Indicators; the Oregon Statewide continues to be released regularly with an update coming this week.

While I wait for the delayed data, I want to share some insights gained from the Dallas Federal Reserve Mobility and Engagement Index (MEI). The MEI uses mobile device data to track the extent to which people are traveling aways from their homes. The greater the mobility, the more likely that people are engaged in more normal types of economic activity. The MEI is scaled such that 0 is the average of January and February and -100 is the lowest level of mobility (April 11) for the nation. More details in the MEI’s construction can be found here.

The data is available by state, county, and metropolitan service area. For Oregon and it’s major metropolitan areas, the data reveals a fairly wide dispersion of mobility and engagement outcomes but all share the similar pattern of leveling off in the latter half of June and July:

The Medford area has retained the most mobility and engagement with a July 25 reading of -15.3. This compares with the Portland and Salem areas with values of -40.3 and -42.2, respectively. Bend and Eugene are also similar to each other at -21.1 and -22.6, respectively.

There are two broad takeaways from these data. The first is that the recovery is progressing more slowly in Salem and Portland compared to other parts of the state. Note that the Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas are still in Phase 1 status and the proximity of these regions to Marion County may impact activity there as well. This would explain the relativeness weakness of the Portland and Salem areas. The remaining areas are all in Phase 2 of reopening.

The second takeaway is that the pace of improvement in all areas has either slowed or leveled off in recent weeks. The trend has been evident in other areas of the nation as Covid-19 cases have climbed; where either due to renewed business closures (such as that ordered for Umatilla County) or increased caution on the part of individuals, we see less mobility and likely less economic activity.

More generally, mobility and engagement is not likely to return to its pre-pandemic levels until we have greater containment of the virus or an effective therapy or vaccine. Until that time, some parts of the economy, in particular leisure and hospitality, can’t yet fully recover and thus there will be a limit to the extent of the overall recovery.

May 2020 Oregon Statewide Economic Indicators

This is the University of Oregon State of Oregon Economic Indicators for May 2020. The release date July 6, 2020. Special thanks to our sponsor, KeyBank

Link to full report (with charts!) here.

The Oregon Measure of Economic Activity rebounded from -14.7 in April to 0.07 in May while the moving average measure, which smooths out the volatility, edged down further -5.23 and indicates below average growth for the Oregon economy. Highlights of the report include: Continue Reading

April 2020 Oregon Statewide Economic Indicators

This is the University of Oregon State of Oregon Economic Indicators for April 2020. The release date June 8, 2020. Special thanks to our sponsor, KeyBank

Link to full report (with charts!) here.

This is what a “sudden stop” looks like in the data. The Oregon Measure of Economic Activity plummeted to -14.7 in April while the moving average measure, which smooths out the volatility, fell to -5.13; both measures indicate below average growth for the Oregon economy. Highlights of the report:

  • No major sector made a positive contribution to the measure. Widespread and deep layoffs throughout the economy impacted the services sector particularly severely. Many of those layoffs will be temporary; employees are already returning to work with much of the state in the initial stages of reopening.
  • The University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators fell 3.9%, extending the steep decline of the previous month. The details are interesting.
  • Factors driving the decline were as might be expect, with initial unemployment claims, employment services (temporary help) payrolls, hours working in manufacturing, core capital goods orders, and consumer sentiment all driving the index down.
  • The Oregon weight-distance tax collected and Oregon home building permits, however, remain resilient; these indicators typically decline in a recession.
  • We should carefully watch what happens in the housing markets in the coming months. Housing tends to be a leading indicator and if it remains a strong sector we would expect the recession to be fairly short-lived.

Economic activity came to a sudden stop in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19. We should expect a sharp short-term bounce in the data in the coming months as the economy reopens. Longer-term, however, the recovery to the past peak of activity will be slow and choppy as the economy adapts to the virus.

Media Contacts:
Tim Duy – 541.346.4660 (w)

April Local Employment Numbers Reveal Steep Declines

This afternoon I noticed the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates of employment at the local level are available for April of this year on the St. Louis Federal Reserve publicly available data repository. These appear to be the BLS estimates as the Oregon versions are not available at this time on the State of Oregon  Employment Department website.

As might be expected, all regions experienced steep employment declines; total payrolls were down in the range of 12%-15% compared to April of last year. The  leisure and hospitality industries were particularly hard hit.

While all regions gave up years of job gains, the Eugene-Springfield region was particularly hard hit. According to the posted data, April employment in Eugene-Springfield was 139,000; at the lowest point after the last recession, September  2010, employment was 140,100. In other words, the region gave up nearly 10 years of job grown this past April.

With the state moving into the initial phase of reopening and ending the most strict lockdowns, employment declines will slow and will then stabilize; in some sectors (such as elective medical care, for instance) jobs might rebound fairly quickly. Other sectors, however, will continue to be impacted by social distancing restrictions, especially leisure and hospitality, and be fairly slow to recover. Overall, the recovery to pre-coronavirus employment levels will likely be fairly slow as the economy adapts to the virus.