Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oregon Unemployment Doubles in a Year; Democratic Governor Not Surprised

Cross posted at The Next Right

Oregon unemployment figures are the worst in more than two decades. Oregon's unemployment rate has doubled since January, 2008, and increased a whole percentage point in the last month.

  • 10.8% - February, 2009 unemployment
  • 9.8% - January, 2009 unemployment (adjusted)
  • 5.3% - January, 2008 unemployment

Only two employment sectors saw gains in February:

  • government (adding 6,200 jobs)
  • private educational and health services (adding 6,700 jobs)

Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski was not surprised by the steep upward spiral, and did not present a plan of action for bringing the rate down. He saw it as an economic trend that could last through summer.
“Gov. Ted Kulongoski said he wasn't surprised by the double-digit jobless rate. Monday's numbers signal that the state's revenues will continue to decline into the 2009-2011 budget, he said.

“‘We're in a very steep decline,’ Kulongoski said. ‘Economists tell us this is a trend that may last until the middle of this year.’”

However, University of Oregon economist Tim Duy was staggered by the increase.
“To Tim Duy, a University of Oregon economist, that rate is staggering, having soared from 5.9 percent in June. But Duy finds the 21,700 jobs lost in February particularly dire.

“Duy's pessimistic projection had anticipated losses of 10,000 a month for five months. But Oregon lost more than twice that last month -- on top of 13,000, as revised, in January.

“‘What that suggests to me is the state's budget forecast is not going to work,’ Duy said. ‘My main problem is I barely see any light in the tunnel.’”

Both Governor Kulongoski and economist Duy expressed concern over the impact of the high jobless rate on the collapsing state budget. Neither mentioned the impact on the unemployed (or the downsizing or closing of businesseses that employed them).

The Oregonian didn’t think to ask Kulongoski about plans to reverse the downward trend or the human impact of high unemployment even though reporter Richard Read’s story highlights the plight of a senior citizen who almost lost her home.

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