Breaking News: Oregon’s Economic Growth Shines Again

Chuck Sheketoff

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its latest estimate of change in real gross domestic product — economic growth adjusted for inflation — in each state in 2011.

How did Oregon’s economy perform relative to other states in 2011?

At 4.7 percent, the growth rate of Oregon’s GDP exceeded that of all other states, except for North Dakota, last year.

Oregon’s economic growth rate was more than three times the nation’s rate (1.5 percent) and more than double the 2.0 percent rate of our often-compared neighbor to the north, Washington. Durable goods manufacturing fueled most of Oregon’s growth.

On a per person basis, Oregon’s GDP also shined relative to other states in 2011. Last year’s growth edged Oregon’s per capita GDP — at $48,098 in 2011 — into the top 10 states. That represents a 3.7 percent increase in per capita GDP over the prior year, outperforming all but two states (North Dakota and West Virginia).

OCPP has explained before how relative to the rest of the nation, Oregon’s economy has performed exceptionally well over time. With this new data, BEA has also revised many of the figures in that prior report upward for Oregon (an update from OCPP is forthcoming).

Today’s BEA release is further proof that, relative to the rest of the nation, Oregon’s economy shines brightly.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at

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    Wow! I guess GDP doesn't always translate into great job growth.

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    We keep hearing how Oregon's regulatory policies are preventing needed jobs growth. This clearly points to something different...

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    Bill, keep in mind that Oregon's unemployment rate is 1% lower than a year ago and I think another 1% or so better than at the peak of the recession. However, as the Oregonian pointed out this morning, the job growth is concentrated in Washington county which has an unemployment rate of 7%, a full 1.5% points below the state-wide average of 8.5%. I also support your basic premise since these jobs tend to be higher paying, meaning fewer jobs per $ of GDP growth than the base.

    Having said all this, it belies the arguments of the big business lobby in the state, that we cannot have growth without cutting rich people's taxes and that we cannot have higher per capita income to support education. The arguments laid out in the last two Oregon Business Plans are just fallacious and distorted.

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      Well stated, Chuck. As this speaker from "TED", Nick Haneuer, says, 'rich people aren't job creators, customers are job creators.'

      The consumer confidence needs to increase substantially, and especially in the red part of Oregon, that's a hard sell, out there in Romney country, where they still think rich people are going to rescue them.

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        Excuse me, the reply above was intended towards John.

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        Loved the TED video. So nice to see people finally admitting that for the most part, low taxes do not equate to jobs.

        You could cut my taxes to ZERO and I still wouldn't hire anyone. I will only hire someone when the demand for my services EXCEEDS my capacity to supply it.

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          Exactly my point Michael. Customers sustain a job. But unless you're there to provide that job to someone, all there is, is a market. Unless there is an entrepreneur, there is no way to supply that market.

          And I agree that low taxes don't create the environment for job creation. It's actually a higher tax rate on business that encourages businesses to plow what would ordinarily be considered profit back into the business to avoid taxes, that expands business and creates more jobs. It may sound counter intuitive to many who aren't in business, but it's the truth.

          As my uncle's accountant advised him many years ago - you can either buy a house that you can barely afford (paying money to banks via interest on a loan), start a new business (provides deductions but doesn't really put money in your own pocket, but does create one or more new jobs), or expand your business (creates jobs as you need to bring people on because you've hit the wall on your own personal production levels).

          I'm right on the cusp of all of this. I'm very close to the maximum of my own production. I would like to serve more patrons for my farm. So, I need to either bring on one or more employees or bring on a partner in a joint venture for a spin off of my farm. Either way one or more new jobs will be created to serve a market or markets that will sustain the job(s).

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        Balloney! Customers don't create jobs, they sustain them. But unless you have an entrepreneur who is willing to go out there and risk his/her neck (and finances) to hire people to service that demand (from the customer) there will be no job.

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          I know you believe right wing rich people are the saviors, but I grew up in a small business, a restaurant. And my family didn't hire new help until absolutely necessary, when the customers were overwhelming the present level of employees. And being a family member we were the first line of employees. The customers come first.

          We've had this trickle down nonsense in place ever since GWB,, and the rich are getting richer, putting their money in Cayman Islands and Swiss bank accts, just like BainMitt, not into the pockets of middle class employees who spend their money buying products and stirring demand. Without demand there are no new jobs.

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          Baloney back at you! If there is a demand for a product or service there will ALWAYS be someone who can figure out a way to fulfill it. There will be a race to see who can do it first and best.

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          Try salami; it's easier to spell. No entrpeneur ever hired an employee he didn't have to to either get his product onto the market or to meet market demand. Without customers, there are no jobs.

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          You are correct that customers sustain jobs and when I have fewer customers, I may have to reduce my labor force. Is it not also true that when I have more customers I may have to increase my labor pool?

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    Curious that of the top five, only Oregon is a non-carbon producing state. The others obviously benefited, at least in part, to continued use and extraction of fossil farts. I'm sure that is especially true to Number One North Dakota.

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    To be completely honest, it would be nice to know the numbers ex-Intel. Obviously the overall number is important, but I suspect a huge contribution from Intel is masking the more general situation.

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    To be accurate, Hanauer's video ain't a TED video since TED refused to put it out basically because it went against a mythology started by right wing plutocrats and since embraced by both the "mainstream" media and the "mainstream" left.

    We're currently doing some intense marketing at our firm. What we've done is solicit resumes for professionals with the expertise to service the contracts on which we are bidding.

    What we have not done, is hire three people and hope that we get the contract.

    As Hanauer explains, each has his part to play in the "virtuous cycle" of capitalism, and to single out venture capitalists or business owners as deserving of special respect or privilege as "job creators" or "producers" is to completely misunderstand how capitalism works.

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