Friday, June 04, 2010

Mega Portland Loses 23,300 Jobs; Little Cornelius Gains 300

In the last year Portland (pop. 550,000) lost 23,300 jobs.

Little Cornelius (pop. 11,000) just gained 300 jobs.

Cornelius has a work force of about 4,600. That's a 6% gain in work opportunity.

Portland has a work force of about 274,000. In the last year lost jobs meant an 8% decline in Portland's work opportunities.

A symptom of the problem can be seen in the fight brewing to keep the company that gave Cornelius 300 jobs from siting a new store in Portland. Though little Cornelius has a poor population base and big Portland has a great population base for a major retailer, Portland frowns at new long term employment opportunities and short term construction jobs from Walmart.

Jim Redden of the Portland Tribune presents an insightful overview from University of Oregon economist Tim Duy on Portland's "city-specific problem":
"One person who was not surprised by Portland’s attitude toward Walmart is Tim Duy, an economist at the University of Oregon. Duy has long been puzzled by what he sees as Portland’s inability to generate or sustain new jobs. Five days before the Walmart announcement, Duy delivered a speech to the Westside Economic Alliance criticizing the city’s inability to attract large employers.

"'There is a problem in the center of the region,' said Duy, who presented a wealth of statistics showing that Portlanders earn less than their suburban counterparts — and that they make less than four other cities considered to have similar values: Austin, Denver, Minneapolis and Seattle."

“'This is a city-specific problem,' Duy said. 'And it’s a city with a lot of influence over the rest of the region.'”
No wonder that Portland is tied for 18th worst among 100 major metropolitan areas in percentage of job losses and has a median income significantly lower than comparable cities and even lower than smaller adjacent cities and counties.
“It should be just the opposite — the biggest county with the biggest city should have the highest wages,” Duy says.

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