Friday, October 2, 2020
News & Notes
Forum audience receives the news - economy bad, but not as bad as expected
   The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis' Josh Lehner joined WEA members and guests last week to share the state's most recent quarterly Economic and Revenue Forecast.
   Lehner, an economist, shared how the state economy was doing, saying it was bad, but not as bad as he and his colleagues had anticipated.
   At the same time, he and his colleagues are envisioning this recession as something we won't climb out of until 2023.
   He compared the current economy to one experiencing a natural disaster, where there is a sudden decline, but recovers at a faster rate than a typical recession.
   He said right now tax collections for the state seem okay, as those receiving unemployment will still be taxed, but the question is whether those paying property taxes in November will have the ability to pay, especially given the rent moratoriums that have been in place for a number of months now.
   Lehner talked about the impacts of the recent wildfires too and the effect it could have on the overall economy.
   He pointed out these wildfires were different, given it occurred on lands close to metro areas, which means a number of structures were damaged or destroyed.
   Current estimates show 4,000 homes will need to be rebuilt, and Lehner said he questions whether the construction industry has the capacity to undertake such a task - economist already had 2,000 additional housing starts in their forecast as being needed over the next two years.
   If you missed the presentation, you can see it on WEA's YouTube channel.
   Lehner's slide deck is also available on the WEA website (scroll to the bottom).
August employment data continues to look up
   Compared to four months ago, the employment data for Washington and Clackamas counties is looking better.
   In August, Clackamas County's unemployment rate dropped to 7.5%, while Washington County's slipped 2.5 percentage points to 6.7% (about 21,000 people).
   Even though Washington County's numbers are looking better than in July, Workforce Analyst Brandon Schrader said the unemployment rate in August was still more than double what it was a year ago.
   Washington County employers added back another 400 jobs in August, while Clackamas County employers added 600.
   This still leaves Clackamas County with a deficit of 15,600 positions from a year ago and nearly 20,800 for Washington County.
   To see the most recent reports, turn to Schrader's report for Washington County and/or Wallis' for Clackamas County.
OHSU expands its lab & COVID-19 testing capabilities
   Back in March, OHSU reacted to the Corona virus pandemic by hastily putting together a Molecular Microbiology Lab.
   OHSU had staff, supplies, and equipment on loan from different departments, but by September the lab evolved even more.
   It has expanded into a 4,000 square foot space on the OHSU campus complete with its own equipment and permanent staff.
   Early on, the lab could handle about 250 tests a day.
   Now with the new space comes new efficiencies, and with a staff of 15, the lab can process 3,000 tests a day.
   OHSU credits a gift from Phil and Penny Knight for making this all possible.
   To read more, click here.
Odds & Ends
  • The deadline to register to vote is October 13. If you want to learn more about registering or want to verify your own information, visit the Secretary of State's website.

  • The Interstate Bridge is back open. Congratulations to our friends at David Evans & Associates for their work on this project. ODOT said crews will still need to make some night time lane and ramp closures. To learn more visit, the project's website.

  • Multnomah County celebrated a reopening this week too, as it welcomed travelers back to Cornelius Pass Road after an 11-week closure.

  • Clackamas County is asking for feedback on planning for better transit service. Click here to learn more.

  • WEA Board member Jason Green of CBRE was featured as part of a Portland Business Journal article on diversity, equity, and inclusion. To read the article, click here.

  • It's Restaurant Week in Beaverton. There are 35 restaurants in downtown Beaverton participating with unique and creative menu offerings through October 4. Click here to learn more.

  • And finally, some people wish upon a star, but in Hillsboro, it's a tree where wishes are placed. View the video below to see this creative community idea.
Events coming up
Th. 10/8 The Government Relations Committee (GRC) will meet virtually at 7:30 a.m.

Wed. 10/14 at 7:30 a.m. The Transportation Committee will meet virtually.

Wed. 10/21 at 12:00 p.m. The Land Use & Housing Committee will meet virtually.

Wed. 10/28 at 7:30 a.m. The WEA Board of Directors will meet virtually.

To see more of the WEA calendar, please visit the WEA website.