As the national economy continues robust growth, Pacific Northwest looks good: Perspective from Oregon Office of Economic Analysis

Employers added 157,000 jobs nationally in July and the unemployment rated dropped to an eighteen-year low.

U.S. employers slowed their hiring in July, adding 157,000 jobs, a solid gain but below the healthy pace in the first half of this year.

The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.9 percent from 4 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.

The AP adds,

Consumers are spending freely and businesses are stepping up their investment in buildings and equipment, accelerating growth. That’s raising demand for workers in industries ranging from manufacturing to construction to health care.

Of more interest to many of us, though, may be this report from Josh Lehner from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. It draws from a recent presentation he gave looking at the Washington and Oregon economies.

Overall there is not a massive difference between the states in terms of where they are in the business cycle, the risks to the outlook, and the like…

What did stand out to me in preparing for the talk was that all of the Northwest is expanding. And all of the region’s urban areas are at record employment levels. Tri Cities leads the pack, but Bend is close behind, showing both the largest employment losses in recession and the strongest growth since.

He also comments on an issue we’ve followed: the different economic experiences of urban and rural communities.

Like Oregon, Washington’s rural employment trends fall into two big categories. Instead of the north-south divide Oregon has in terms of economic growth this cycle, Washington sees an east-west divide. Jobs in Oregon’s northern rural counties and in Washington’s eastern rural counties are at historic highs. The same cannot be said for Oregon’s southern rural counties and Washington’s western rural counties. While I did not do a full decomposition to figure out what exactly is driving these trends, we do know one common variable across both regions is their historic strength in timber. While the sector is growing again, it does remain significantly smaller than prior to the recession, let alone 40 years ago.

Not to mention the struggles in Central Washington as growers face labor shortages that threaten their ability to bring in the harvest.

Lerner offers an interesting brief analysis. We recommend it.