News Column

Ore. Economist Sees Slow Growth

Nov. 6, 2012

Ilene Aleshire

Oregon is likely to see continued slow economic growth in the coming months, according to a monthly economic forecast produced by the University of Oregon.

The UO Index of Economic indicators softened in September, said UO economist Tim Duy, the author of the index. But much of that was the result of softer employment figures, which have been very volatile in recent months, he said.

"Overall, Oregon is growing (at a rate) near, to somewhat below, its average since 1990," Duy said.

"Initial unemployment claims edged up (in September), but overall have been moving sideways in the 7,400 to 8,200 range (per month) for the past six months," he said.

The index fell to 91.9 in September, down from 92.1 in August. The index uses 1997 as its base year of 100; the higher the number, the better the economic outlook.

The lack of new construction has been a drag on the economic forecast, Duy said.

However, residential building figures are improving, so construction employment probably will have less of a negative impact on the outlook going forward, he said.

Slow economies overseas appear to be weighing on the manufacturing component of the index, Duy said.

But, on the positive side, consumer sentiment rose again in September, he said, "suggesting consumer spending is solid as we head into the holiday season."

Overall, he said, "the baseline scenario remains steady but relatively slow growth for the national economy, with Oregon following a similar trajectory."

Duy added a caveat to his prediction of a slowly improving economy, however.

"The possibility of either a sharp fiscal contraction in the early part of 2013 or deterioration in the global economy (or both) remains a risk to the outlook," he said.

Source: (c)2012 The Register-Guard (Eugene, Ore.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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