"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
Now that you've had a day to gorge on that turkey, pumpkin pie and assorted other goodies, it's time to see what we're thankful and not so thankful about. The American Dream is a great idea but sadly for too many it's in a galaxy far, far away!
While the nation's macro economy has recovered from the Great Recession, there are many indicators that the good times are not evenly distributed not even in the Portland metro area - Oregon's economic hub where hi-tech is king.
The head of our county homeless program has reported that we are seeing a rise in poverty as reported by the American Community Survey data and increasing calls service provider agencies are receiving from people seeking assistance.
The Portland region continues to grow jobs at a solid annual pace of 2.6%. The unemployment rate continues to decline, though at a slower pace than previous years. Most, but not all, major industries are growing.
Ironically the hi-tech manufacturing industry shows essentially no job growth over the last three years. This is surprising since Business Oregon, the Oregon’s economic development agency, has invested huge sums of SIP money into that sector.
By geography, we see the city of Portland itself has recovered to prerecession levels while most of the surrounding communities have not recovered similar to the pattern in rural Oregon, the so-called “other Oregon.”
While jobs have returned to pre-recession levels in the Portland Metro region, incomes have not. The number of high and low-income households is growing, while the number of middle-income households is declining.
Median household income in 2013 was down to $59K about 8% below the 2008 level, adjusted for inflation. While the ranks of upper income Oregonians earning more than $150K have grown, so too have those earning less than $25K a year.
There are two Oregons – urban/rural, affluent/working poor, white/non-white. The middle class in Oregon as in the nation is in decline, the source of the anger we see directed at the political establishment in elections or on the street.
It's about time the political class in the Metro area, Washington County, Salem and DC woke up from it's Thanksgiving stupor but visions of gridlock in DC don't give us much hope from that quarter while visions of "sugar plums dance in our heads" from the Puzzle Palace to Mahonia Hall.
"Keep Hope Alive..."