12-05-2016  4:34 am      •     

Oregon employment officials this week highlighted an array of online job services even as they reported that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent in November from 7.2 percent in October.
Meanwhile, the nonprofit Oregon Center for Public Policy issued its own report showing that families statewide have been crushed by the recession – in part because they failed to make economic gains during the boom times earlier this decade.
"The recession has intensified the pressure that was already squeezing working families," said Michael Leachman, OCPP policy analyst and co-author of the 2008-2009 edition of the group's series, The State of Working Oregon. "The right policy choices now can ease some of that strain, but more importantly, they can help usher in a new era of shared prosperity and opportunity when economic growth returns."
The report released this week, "Rolling Up Our Sleeves: Building an Oregon That Works for Working Families," lays out a broad policy framework and specific proposals intended to increase economic opportunity.
By some measures, Oregon's economy performed very well during the seven-year economic cycle that ended in early 2008. According to the OCPP report, the state's economy grew at an annual rate of 4 percent during the cycle, outpacing the nation's 2.5 percent growth rate. Oregon led all states in terms of worker productivity growth.
However, researchers say underneath the rosy top-line numbers lurked a darker picture.
The amount of bad debt — unpaid bills — written off by Oregon hospitals tripled from 2000 through 2008, according to the report. From 2001 through 2007, Oregon recorded nearly twice as many personal bankruptcy filings as bachelor's degrees awarded at its public universities.

Web-Based Job Placement

The state's WorkSource Oregon program is in the process of implementing a new skill assessment helping job seekers determine their best fit for current openings, and what training they might need to make them more employable.
Despite the downturn in the employment picture, there are thousands of jobs available on the state's iMatchSkills database. As of Friday, Dec. 12 there were 6,536 openings posted.
Find out more at www.WorkSourceOregon.org, and www.iMatchSkills.org, as well as www.Employment.Oregon.gov, or call 877-517-5627 for location information for in-person application procedures.

State Economy Sours
State economists say that in recent months, industry employment data show Oregon's economic downturn has broadened.
State officials say the state's unemployment rate has risen sharply over the past five months after remaining stable throughout the first half of the year at nearly 5.5 percent.
The U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent in November, from 6.5 percent in October.
According to the state's newest statistics, seasonally adjusted payroll employment dropped by 6,300 jobs in November — the fourth consecutive monthly loss of more than 4,000 jobs.
In November, two major industry categories, which were not the first to cut jobs this year, registered substantial job losses: leisure and hospitality lost about 1,800 jobs, while trade, transportation, and utilities lost 4,200 jobs. Construction continued to trend downward with a loss of 2,200 jobs, while government continued to trend higher, gaining about 1,200 jobs.
About half of government's total gain of 7,500 in those 12 months has occurred in education, with state education up 900 jobs and local education up 2,600.

Unemployment Insurance

What benefits are available to Oregonians right now?

26 weeks regular claim ($113/week minimum, $482/week maximum)

33 weeks Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC ends March 2009)

13 weeks Extended Benefits

72 weeks possible benefits
To speed processing of unemployment insurance claims, the Oregon Employment Department has added staff to answer calls and has moved other staff to process claims during off hours. There are now two ways to file for a claim: on the Internet, or by telephone.
To file online, go to www.WorkingInOregon.org.
To file by telephone, in the Portland metro area call 503-451-2400, or toll free 1-877-877-1781  

Families Hardest Hit
According to the OCPP report, by the end of the economic cycle, the lowest-income 60 percent of Oregon workers had seen their paychecks shrink in inflation-adjusted terms and fewer workers overall could count on health care coverage.
"We've had an unbalanced economy in which the benefits of growth and increased worker productivity have flowed upward," said Leachman.
Estimated corporate profits more than doubled and the incomes of well-off Oregonians soared between 2000 and 2007, according to OCPP.
The group calculated that in 2006, Oregon's wealthiest 1,500 households — who together would fill less than a third of the seats in Portland's Rose Garden Arena — made as much money as 450,000 households, as many households as live in 28 of Oregon's 36 counties, combined.
"Rolling Up Our Sleeves" sets out specific recommendations within three broad categories: strengthening the public sector, securing the incomes of working families and reforming the tax system.
The first strategy emphasizes the ways that public sector spending can help ease the pain of the current downturn and lay a foundation for long-term economic growth. The report highlights the payoffs in reducing child poverty and upgrading public infrastructure.
"The actual economic benefits of sustaining public spending during a recession outweigh any potential adverse effects from a tax increase targeted to very wealthy individuals or profitable corporations," said Leachman.
For its second strategy — improving structures that provide economic security — OCPP recommends enacting universal, comprehensive and affordable health care coverage, modernizing the state's unemployment insurance system, making the workplace more family friendly and helping workers save for retirement.
The report's final strategy calls for reforming the tax system to make it fairer for working families and to generate revenue for public systems that create opportunity.
Oregon's poorest families today pay the largest share of their income to state and local taxes, while the richest families pay the smallest share, according to the report.
Among the tax fixes the report calls for is reforming the corporate income tax to raise upwards of $750 million per biennium, not just a token increase in the $10 minimum corporate income tax as Gov. Ted Kulongoski has proposed.
Kulongoski indicated this week that he favors a wide-scale investment in public health care programs, as well as public investment in infrastructure building projects to boost employment – with the federal government picking up the tab.
"With an immediate injection of federal dollars, Oregon can break ground on $150 million in state highway preservation, safety and bridge projects this summer, and more than $200 million worth of construction at our universities within 100 days," he said in a statement.
The Oregon Employment Department said this week it is providing more benefits to those who have become unemployed "through no fault of their own," and that it's stepping up employment databases that connect job seekers to employers.

According to the OCPP report, by the end of the economic cycle, the lowest-income 60 percent of Oregon workers had seen their paychecks shrink in inflation-adjusted terms and fewer workers overall could count on health care coverage. "We've had an unbalanced economy in which the benefits of growth and increased worker productivity have flowed upward," said Leachman. Estimated corporate profits more than doubled and the incomes of well-off Oregonians soared between 2000 and 2007, according to OCPP. The group calculated that in 2006, Oregon's wealthiest 1,500 households — who together would fill less than a third of the seats in Portland's Rose Garden Arena — made as much money as 450,000 households, as many households as live in 28 of Oregon's 36 counties, combined. "Rolling Up Our Sleeves" sets out specific recommendations within three broad categories: strengthening the public sector, securing the incomes of working families and reforming the tax system. The first strategy emphasizes the ways that public sector spending can help ease the pain of the current downturn and lay a foundation for long-term economic growth. The report highlights the payoffs in reducing child poverty and upgrading public infrastructure. "The actual economic benefits of sustaining public spending during a recession outweigh any potential adverse effects from a tax increase targeted to very wealthy individuals or profitable corporations," said Leachman. For its second strategy — improving structures that provide economic security — OCPP recommends enacting universal, comprehensive and affordable health care coverage, modernizing the state's unemployment insurance system, making the workplace more family friendly and helping workers save for retirement. The report's final strategy calls for reforming the tax system to make it fairer for working families and to generate revenue for public systems that create opportunity. Oregon's poorest families today pay the largest share of their income to state and local taxes, while the richest families pay the smallest share, according to the report. Among the tax fixes the report calls for is reforming the corporate income tax to raise upwards of $750 million per biennium, not just a token increase in the $10 minimum corporate income tax as Gov. Ted Kulongoski has proposed. Kulongoski indicated this week that he favors a wide-scale investment in public health care programs, as well as public investment in infrastructure building projects to boost employment – with the federal government picking up the tab."With an immediate injection of federal dollars, Oregon can break ground on $150 million in state highway preservation, safety and bridge projects this summer, and more than $200 million worth of construction at our universities within 100 days," he said in a statement.The Oregon Employment Department said this week it is providing more benefits to those who have become unemployed "through no fault of their own," and that it's stepping up employment databases that connect job seekers to employers.

 

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