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.