Economy

Economy, Business, Finance & Labor

Amanda Peacher / OPB

Nearly 15 years ago, Oregon had the highest rate of hunger in the nation. The state changed a number of policies to try to help. But the percentage of people facing hunger today is nearly as high as it was in 2000. In this series, we talk to Oregonians who struggle to put food on the table, and look at programs that provide support. Amanda Peacher reports on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

thenewsguard.com

Some scientists say the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a massive earthquake. In the past couple weeks, Business Oregon awarded grants to schools and emergency services for seismic upgrades. But, the Governor and others want to substantially increase that investment.

LERC

Despite Oregon having the 2nd highest minimum wage in the nation, low-wage workers in the state are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. That's the finding of a new report from the University of Oregon.

Lane County used to be the center of motor home manufacturing in Oregon, employing about 4,500 people. Then the recession hit. Only one of the RV makers survived. Marathon Coach announced Tuesday it plans to increase production and hire more workers.

Voices From Cannabis Country: Part 2

Dec 30, 2014
John Rosman / OPB

Last month, Oregonians voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Today, we bring you two more voices from residents of southwest Oregon talking about cannabis in their community.

First, we’ll hear from Jennifer Phillippi. She’s the owner of the last remaining sawmill in Josephine County.

Next is Richard Davis, known locally as Pa Butt. He’s a longtime medical marijuana grower. Davis spoke to us at his grow operation, where a deer he’s named Sugar Bob often joins him as he works.

Voices From Cannabis Country: Part 1

Dec 30, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

Last month, Oregonians voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Today and tomorrow, we bring you voices from southern Oregon, where pot is already an important part of the culture and economy.
Chelsea Rose is an archeologist in Jacksonville. Rose is fascinated by the oral history of pot and the grow sites she finds by accident. OPB joined her and local cat on a hike to an old grow site in the Applegate valley.

Oregon Department of Justice

Oregon's Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has made a list of naughty and nice charities. During the last few days of giving for 2014, it's important to research non-profits, and know how their funds are spent.

Ellen Klem is with the Oregon Department of Justice. She says it's encouraging that no Oregon-based groups made the list of 20 worst charities this year:

Klem: "I think one of the tips we've been encouraging Oregonians to keep in mind this holiday season is to donate locally. It's a wonderful feeling to see your donation in action here in the state."

Photo of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives, on Wikimedia Commons.

Members of a new national coalition say there's a link between start-up companies and the outdoors. And they are encouraging the federal government to expand national parks and monuments to accommodate the trend in the rising workforce. Conservation for Economic Growth Coalition includes a dozen CEO's of venture capital firms, and they say today's labor force wants an active, healthy lifestyle to accompany their work habits. Nancy Pfund is a Spokeswoman for DBL Investors.

theeconomiccollapseblog.com

The  unemployment rate in Lane County, as in the whole state of Oregon, has flattened out. 

Lane County's unemployment rate, established through a household survey, stood at 6.9 percent in November.  That's according to Brian Rooney, regional economist for the Oregon Employment Department. It's down only slightly from a 7.1 percent rate a year ago.

The Economic Impact Of Legal Marijuana In Oregon

Dec 19, 2014

Oregon is preparing for the economic impact of legal recreational marijuana, following the passing of Measure 91 by voters. KLCC's Desmond O'Boyle interviews Troy Dayton, CEO of a research group who publishes economic projections for business owners and entrepreneurs.

econforum.uoregon.edu

Economic indicators recently released by the University of Oregon show the state are showing improvement. October employment data was stronger in all areas except natural resources and mining sectors.

Manufacturing was particularly strong during the fall, suggesting the State is on par with national growth trends. The household sector is also stabilizing after years of negative data. Tim Duy is Director of the Economic Forum at the U of O. He says employment services, or temp resources are on the rise.

Kitzhaber Unveils $18.6 Billion Spending Plan

Dec 1, 2014
Chris Lehman

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has unveiled an $18.6 billion spending plan for the next two years. The Democrat outlined his proposal at the state capitol Monday. Roughly half of the money is marked for education. Kitzhaber says his budget also includes tax relief for low-income workers.

John Kitzhaber: "To ensure that hard work is actually rewarded with a better life…to ensure that when you get more wages, when your income goes up, you actually have more money, not less money in your pocket."

Wikimedia Commons

Chances are your utility bill has gone up this year. One small part of the reason may be that you’re paying for electricity that was never generated.   Northwest electricity customers got saddled with more than $2.5 million in payments for power they didn’t use.

Oregon experienced its largest one-month hiring boost in nearly 20 years in October. The Oregon Employment Department says 9,900 jobs were added. Still last month's unemployment rate remained flat at 7 percent.

David Cooke is an economist with the state Employment Department

Cooke: "We're seeing rapid employment growth, both from the payroll employment survey and the household survey. They're showing the same thing. But it looks like the labor force is expanding as more and more people jump into the labor market."

Helping Impoverished Children Starts With Parents

Nov 17, 2014
Bridge Meadows

Helping children in poverty needs to start with their parents. That's according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. There are approximately 126 thousand Oregon children under age 8 living below the poverty line. Most of their parents don't have a higher education degree and many don't have year round work. Children First for Oregon Spokeswoman Tonia Hunt says the State needs to work on ways to improve the family budget.

seagrant.oregonstate.edu

Roughly 90% of the fish consumed in the U.S. is imported. Half of that is farmed fish, a practice known as aquaculture farming. Compared to neighboring Washington, California, and Idaho, Oregon produces less than 6% of the total value of aquaculture products.  Jerry Gardner is a Business Developer for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. He says increasing aquaculture production could be an economic boost for the state.

wikipedia.com

Postal workers in Springfield and across the country are protesting today (Friday). It’s the last day the Board of Governors can vote to stop the closure of 82 facilities across the country.

The Springfield mail processing center is scheduled to be fully closed by next July. Peter Hass is a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service. He says the closure has been in the works for years, because of the steep decline in first class mail. Hass says the consolidation is part of a nation-wide service standard change:

wikipedia

Too early for holiday cheer? Not for Oregon’s 100-million dollar Christmas tree industry. November is the growers’ peak time for shipping. They’re taking extra measures this year to be sure fewer trees are rejected due to pests.

Oregon is the nation’s largest producer of Christmas trees, exporting six to seven million annually. Gary McAninch is with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. He says some Oregon species of slugs and yellow jackets cause big problems in places like Hawaii:

Households needing help on their winter heating bills can apply for assistance beginning Monday. Federal funding has been released to the states for the low income energy assistance program, or LIHEAP.

Mary Ellen Bennett is the LIHEAP Coordinator for Lane County. She expects about 8,000 households will receive assistance this year, which is on par with last year. Bennett says several factors determine how much help is given:

Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest Public Radio

Maybe you remember those glossy Red Delicious Washington apples they served in your grade school cafeteria. Well, Washington growers are expecting a record crop of apples this year, but not of Red Delicious. Most American consumers have moved on and growers are doing their best to keep up.

UO Foundation

Eugene Water and Electric has chosen the University of Oregon Foundation as developer of its property along the Willamette River. EWEB Commissioners made the selection from three candidates at their Tuesday meeting.

The vote was 4 to 0. Joe Harwood is spokesman for EWEB. He says commissioners felt the U of O Foundation has a long term commitment to the community.

B&Bs Vs. Airbnb: Struggling With Short-Term Rentals

Sep 30, 2014
Bill McLean / JPR

New online companies have emerged where private residents offer travelers a place to stay for the night, often at rates cheaper than hotels or bed and breakfast outfits.

Ashland, Oregon is one of the global hotspots trying to reconcile a clash between the traditional hospitality industry and a growing market of private residents trying to make a few bucks renting out a spare room or two.

Ashland resident Tom DuBois rented an unused bedroom to overnight travelers at his house in a single-family residential neighborhood zoned R-1. Then he got a letter from the city.

oregon.gov

Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries will be touring the state during the next few months updating landlords on new Section 8 housing rules.

A law recently passed in Oregon makes it illegal to deny housing for someone who qualifies for low income housing known as Section 8. The first of 15 seminars is September 29th in Portland. State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian says the goal is to inform landlords about the changes so they don't accidently run afoul.

Oregon's Working Poor: Benefits Cliff

Sep 24, 2014
John Rosman / OPB

This week we bring you stories of Oregon’s “working poor,”  people who are employed but still struggling to pay the bills. As people living in poverty find jobs and begin to earn a wage, they face another challenge: the benefits cliff.

For the first time in her life, Lynne Chartraw is taking a paid vacation. The single mom is spending her summer day off hosting a motley crew of teenage boys in her Bend apartment. Her two sons are here with six friends playing poker and video games.

hansen-auction.com

If you need a car – perhaps a Ford Crown Victoria – a motorcycle, a guitar or even clothes, Lane County has an opportunity for you.

It’s the County’s annual on-line sealed bid auction of hundreds of surplus items.  The auction, heavy on vehicles and equipment, will be held on-line September 25th through 27th.

Items may be viewed at the Lane County Fleet Services Building Thursday and Friday from 8 to 5, and Saturday, 8 to 3.

More information available by clicking on “2014 Fleet Auction” on the Lane County home page.

Oregon's Working Poor: Wages

Sep 23, 2014
John Rosman / OPB

A new census report shows Oregon's poverty rate rose to more than fifteen percent in 2013.  In this series, we meet several families who are “working poor” or living below 200 percent of the poverty line. We visit Malheur County, which for the past decade, has had some of the highest rates of both poverty and unemployment in Oregon.

 
Rhonda Harvey sits at the back of a hotel classroom in Ontario.

Oregon's Working Poor: Housing

Sep 22, 2014
John Rosman / OPB

This week we bring you stories of Oregon’s “working poor,” or those who are living below 200 percent of the poverty line.For many families, housing eats up the biggest portion of limited budgets. Amanda Peacher reports from Central Oregon, where the rental market is especially challenging for low-income workers.

Rachel McDonald

The Euphoria Chocolate Company of Eugene was founded in 1980 by Bob Bury and his wife, Sue Subbot.  They're retiring, having just sold the business to Van Glass, a software executive, and his wife, Bonnie.   Bob and Van, seller and buyer, joined us to discuss Euphoria...and all things chocolate.

The state employment department reported Tuesday Oregon's unemployment rate rose last month to 7.2 percent.
State Labor Economist Nick Belieciks:

Belieciks: "The unemployment rate increase in August wasn’t caused by more people losing their jobs. It had to do with a large increase in Oregon's labor force. This can happen because of faster population growth or when more people start looking for work because they feel their job prospects are improving."

Not enough weed to go around in WA pot industry

Sep 16, 2014
Josh Rosman / OPB

It’s been two months since retail marijuana stores opened in Washington state. Already, the state says sales have exceeded $10 million. But the supply of pot has also been tight, meaning some retail stores in the state can’t be open as often as they’d like.

Washington’s burgeoning retail marijuana industry is getting off to a slow start.
Take this store in Vancouver, which was closed at times last month.

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