02-19-2017  10:46 pm      •     

According to the Oregon Employment department, the economy has been slowly gaining jobs in most industries over the last two years.

But according to state employment economist Nick Beleiciks, every couple hundred jobs added over the last two months has to be tallied against the large numbers of jobs lost during the Great Recession.

"The (finance) industry added 500 jobs from February to March," he told The Skanner News. "That comes after major losses … so they only really added 100 jobs over that period."

Job losses have been so severe, for example, that McDonalds' recent advertising blitz to add 50,000 jobs across the country is really a drop in the bucket for the Pacific Northwest.

For Oregon's 161 McDonalds – 24 in Portland -- there are 580 job positions to fill. Western Washington's McDonalds contingent of 190 stores is hiring 640 workers, but one industry can't shoulder the burden alone.

"There are over 200,000 unemployed people right now," Beleiciks said. "It's not even enough to put a dent in the rate."

Luckily, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for Multnomah County show a steady improvement over past two years. The economy in Multnomah and Washington counties has officially stabilized, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

For all industries, except the financial industry, job growth since mid-2009 has remained positive, adding jobs throughout the year. The most jobs have been added in professional and business services, adding nearly 4,000 jobs over the year.

Beleiciks said even the finance industry has improved since the end of 2008, if ever slightly. Industries included in this label include some of the biggest losers in the housing bubble and technology sectors – from the banks and realtors who profited off the housing market to all those workers who once stocked and managed the libraries of DVDs at Blockbuster, Hollywood Video and other failed rental business models.

He said the slow decline in unemployment – calculated by a comprehensive survey of households in the state – is natural following the steep rise in joblessness at the beginning of the recession. He said that in some cases the unemployment rate can actually rise slightly following a recession as more people reenter the job market looking for work.

In Region 2 – which consists of Multnomah and Washington counties – seasonal hiring in the spring might include jobs in construction, real estate, retail and leisure and hospitality.

The other industry that seems almost recession-proof is the all-mighty health care industry. According to Jessica Nelson, Oregon employment economist, that industry is riding high due to a number of factors, including a large number of older people, the higher incidence of illness and injury in that age group, improvements in treatment which prolong life, and decreased use of dentures.

Nelson does say that the industry may hit a snag or two in the near future, as government budgets – still strained from the Great Recession – may impact the growth of health care.

And despite the fact that the health care industry posts good average wages, those numbers can be smoke and mirrors to many.

Like most of the jobs being created now, many in health care are low wage, according a recent report by the National Employment Law Project. Without advanced education and training, it's unlikely that many in the unemployment lines will obtain the $73,000 mean wage that some of the odd 24,000 registered nurses in Oregon earn.  

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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