Friday, November 20, 2020
fall leaves on a branch hanging down
News & Notes
The local economy is staying the course for the moment
   Economist Josh Lehner from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis joined WEA members and guests yesterday for a virtual forum.
   Lehner talked about the state's quarterly Economic and Revenue Forecast, which was released on Wednesday.
   He said the most important economic impact to deal with right now is the pandemic.
   Lehner said the news about vaccines sounds promising, but he said even after we deal with the pandemic, it will take a couple of years to get the economy back to a healthy level.
   Minimizing the damage between now and the end of the pandemic is the next priority.
   If more jobs are lost and businesses close, Lehner said the economy will be slower to recover.
   In the big picture of things, he said the current "freeze" will not have a big impact on the economy if it truly lasts only two weeks, or four weeks for Multnomah County, but he said if conditions don't get better, then it will have different implications.
   The good news is at the macro level, the economic indicators show growth.
   "We're not in a recessionary environment anymore. We're still in a bad economy, but we're growing. We're digging our way out of it," Lehner said.
When it comes to household data, he said it's apparent there are a number of households that have saved money and/or have paid down debt.
   At the same time, there is concern for those who may lose their jobless benefits after Christmas if the feds don't take action.
   He said there are debating opinions on whether the economy needs a federal stimulus package in order to grow.
   Lehner and his colleagues have factored it into their forecast though.
   To see Lehner's slide deck, click here.
   For the video presentation, visit WEA's YouTube channel.
The jobs lost & gained during COVID-19
   The Oregon Employment Department shared some of its jobs data related to COVID-19 this week in a blog.
   It shows the state lost 285,000 jobs in March and April, but gained back nearly half (46%) of those by October.
   The leisure and hospitality industry has been the hardest hit, along with the performing arts and indoor recreation.
   As we hunker down for Oregon's "freeze," the Oregon Employment Department estimates another 51,000 jobs will be impacted.
   The one area that continues to be on the move is the transportation, warehouse, and utilities industry.
   This would be the online shopping, deliveries, and etc.
   To read more, turn to this blog.
PGE eyes a future of zero emissions in the not-so-distant future
   Portland General Electric (PGE) announced this week that the company has set its sights on being at net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
   In just 10 years (2030), the company plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% from its 2010 levels in the power associated with the electricity it serves its customers.
   PGE plans to do this by:

  • Ending operations at coal plants, such as the one closed now in Boardman;

  • Adding more renewable energy facilities with wind, solar, and battery storage - such as the facility in Wheatridge;

  • And going to more electric vehicles.

   “Our future depends on taking immediate action to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Maria Pope, president and CEO of Portland General Electric. 
   PGE did say getting to zero emissions will require more policy, regulatory, and technological advances.
   To read more, visit PGE's website.
Odds & Ends
  • Congratulations to Portland Community College (PCC) on being awarded a $1.27 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant will help PCC's TRIO support services, which helps low-income, first-generation college students, or those with disabilities. To read more, click here.

  • For those with food and/or tourist businesses, Washington County has financial operational support through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Visit the Washington County website to learn more - applications are due by November 30.

  • Last week's newsletter talked about the Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) upcoming improvements planned for Highway 217. The agency now has an online open house available for those looking to learn more. Click here to go inside.

  • ODOT is also taking a survey on its Safety Action Plan Update. Click here to be a part of its efforts.

  • Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington will be giving an end of the year message on Monday, November 30 at 6:00 p.m. To see it, go to the county's YouTube channel, and it will also be televised in Spanish on TVCTV's channel 28.

  • Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District is partnering with the Beaverton School District and Beaverton Promise on a gift card giving program to help those in need. To learn more, click here.
Events coming up
Mon. 11/23 at 8:30 a.m. - A joint meeting of the Government Relations, Land Use & Housing, and Transportation committees will take place. The meeting will be with Jeff Newgard in regards to the tax for the homeless services measure.

Th. 11/26 - Happy Thanksgiving! WEA staff's laptops will be closed.

Wed. 12/9 at 7:30 a.m. - The Transportation Committee will meet virtually. All members are welcome. Contact Teresa Dunham for more information.

Th. 12/10 - The Government Relations Committee (GRC) will meet virtually at 7:30 a.m. to talk about the upcoming legislative session. All members are welcome. Contact Pam Treece for more information.

Wed. 12/16 at 7:30 a.m. The WEA Board of Directors will meet virtually.

Wed. 12/16 at 12:00 p.m. - The Land Use & Housing Committee will meet virtually. Contact KC Reinhart for more information.

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