Jobs will be scarce for years, says OCPP

Oregon’s swiftly rising unemployment rate has leveled off for now, according to the state employment department, which reported yesterday that the unemployment rate for April was 12 percent to March’s 11.9. But even if the losses stop, jobs will be scarce for years to come, according to a new analysis by the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

The OCPP, a non-partisan economic research institute, calculated that there are currently only about 67 jobs available for every 100 working-age Oregonians. Based on the state’s economic forecast, OCPP predicts that number will fall to 65.7 in 2010. Then, they say, jobs will start coming back, but it will take years to catch up to previous levels.

Graph from OCPP

Analysts say it will take until 2015 for Oregon to surpass the number of available jobs in 2003, the low point of the less severe recession earlier this decade. Graph from OCPP.

As part of their analysis, OCPP looked at job levels during the last economic recession earlier this decade. Though the economy grew for several years after its low point in 2003, employment never returned to pre-recession levels.

OCPP analyst Michael Leachman says Oregon can keep the dip from getting deeper by investing in the public sector — strengthening the unemployment system, funding programs that fight poverty, and pushing growth in health care and education.

“Public investments preserve and create jobs in the short term and bring matching federal dollars into the state economy,” Leachman said in a statement. “In the long term, they help lay the foundations for future growth.”

Posted by Mara Grunbaum

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