Oregon economy at 'full throttle,' state says

Article by Matthew Kish | Featured on Portland Business Journal

State economists on Friday delivered an upbeat quarterly economic forecast that predicts state revenue will increase 8.7 percent in the 2017-19 two-year budget and more than 10 percent each of the ensuing biennium as Oregon’s economy outperforms other states.

Economists cautioned the growth is not sustainable as the state nears full employment.

“Oregon continues to see full-throttle rates of growth,” the Office of Economic Analysis said, in a news release. “Job gains are outpacing the typical state as are wages for Oregon workers. The state’s economy is quickly approaching full employment, or a healthy labor market. Such a milestone has not been seen since 2000.”

Oregon has added 5,000 jobs every month for two years.

The forecast includes a $17.3 million increase to $18.023 billion in the current two-year state general fund budget, which runs through mid-2017.

“Today’s economic and revenue forecast speaks for itself,” said Oregon Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, in a news release. “Job growth is going strong, with 5,000 jobs added to the economy every month. State revenue projections continue to grow.”

Republicans offered a different view, saying lawmakers are too quickly spending the increased revenue.

“With today’s revenue forecast we learned that Oregon’s economy is not keeping up with current spending levels,” said House Republican Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, and Senate Republican LeaderTed Ferrioli, R-John Day, in a joint news release.

“Even with record revenues, our ending fund balance is expected to be $57.1 million below previous projections, largely due to overspending by Democrats during the 2016 session.”

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