Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Adversity index says Bend still in recession

No surprise to anyone in Central Oregon, but Bend is officially still in recession, according to the Adversity Index put out by Moody's Economy.com. Here's the data on Bend. Here's the story on the nation's Adversity Index.

The February numbers reveal that 53 percent of the nation's 384 metro areas have begun to recover from the recession, up from 48 percent in January.

Still, it's not all bad news for the Bend metro area. According to Moody's, our economic outlook for strengths include:

*Robust population growth
*Budding high-tech industry
*Affordable housing
*Low electricity rates

Well, our population growth has stopped for the time being, but over 10 years, yes, Bend has boomed. As for affordable housing, that depends on your point of view. The median price is still under $200,000, but unemployment is still almost 15 percent.

As for weaknesses in our economic outlook, they include:

*Over-reliance on housing-related industries for employment growth
*Housing market remains out of balance
*High concentration of employment in low-paying service industries.

Can't quibble with those findings. Since the housing market cratered a couple of years ago, jobs are hard to find even in the service sector. Default notices so far this year are on pace to break last year's record. The housing market is seriously out of balance.

But, Bend ranks fairly high when compared to the rest of the country, according to the Adversity Index.

Our "employment growth rank," with 1 being best and 392 worst, Bend ranks a respectable 79th for 2009-2011. Our "cost of doing business" is 17 percent below average, but our "cost of living" is 2 percent above average.

It looks like Bend will stumble along for the next few years, which is not of kilter from historical perspectives. Bend has always been a boom-and-bust kind of town.

Of the state's six metro areas in ranked in the Adversity Index, only two areas -- Salem and Eugene-Springfield -- are not in recession, while Corvallis, Medford and Portland join Bend in the recession category.

But, hey, at least we have some lowest gas prices in the state, though not by much. Check here for the data.

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