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OregonLive: Economic index shows hopeful economic signs

by Richard Read, The Oregonian

Monday September 08, 2008, 11:44 AM

Building permits in Oregon are up, but an economic index suggests the state is in a mild recession.

Oregon residential building permits rose in July, as did U.S. manufacturing orders and consumer confidence. But a monthly University of Oregon economic index still suggests we’re in at least a mild recession. The economy is being dragged down by job losses — 11,300 in Oregon during the past five months — and continued weakness in the housing markets, said Tim Duy, Oregon Economic Forum director and author of the report.Duy detects some stabilization after the slowdown in economic growth that began at the end of last year.

“Still,” Duy wrote, “overall conditions remain consistent with at least a mild recession, and labor-market conditions are likely to remain soft for a protracted period as the economy restructures away from housing-dependent growth.”

Duy found weakness in Oregon’s labor market, as initial unemployment claims rose in July and help-wanted ads in the state’s newspapers declined significantly. Nonfarm payrolls in the state were down 0.2 percent compared to July 2007. Nationally, the interest-rate spread also slipped.

However, Duy wrote, “new orders for nondefense nonaircraft capital goods, adjusted for inflation, rose in July, continuing a trend of relative strength inconsistent with a typical recession.”

— Richard Readrichardread@news.oregonian.com

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