PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Business Alliance released its State of the Economy Report Wednesday morning — handing down a brutally honest assessment of the state of things here in Portland.
The report says that continued challenges from the pandemic, a worsening affordability crisis and Portland’s reputation problem continue to hinder the metro area’s growth and prosperity.
In the statement from the PBA, they hoped for some respite following 2020 but “what followed was another year of uncertainty, disappointment, and extended restrictions. 2021 proved discouraging on the public health and economic fronts”
The PBA notes both the Delta and Omicron variants overwhelmed hospitals as the metro area hit all-time highs for positive COVID-19 cases in January.
Amid COVID rapidly spreading, the PBA said the economy pushed past early pandemic predictions. Even though fewer workers are seen downtown, the regional unemployment rate was only 3.4% in December of 2021, according to the report.
Locally, many employees have not returned to downtown Portland to work in person due to wariness over COVID and safety in general. Since the pandemic began there’s been a 72% decline in foot traffic in downtown Portland overall, while PBA said visitor foot traffic declined 42%.
The report is concerning for everyone in the community, especially the business community, because our neighbors to the north in Seattle are faring much better in their recovery.
The region’s population is growing at a much slower pace — growing only about half the rate as in 2016. Despite this, Clark County is reportedly growing as fast as Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties combined, according to the report.
The president of the business alliance says that people are being priced out of the Portland metro area.
“That is driven largely by the complete, underproduction of housing in our region. And because we have taxed ourselves into this condition,” Portland Business Alliance President Andrew Hoan said.
Based on PBA surveys, residents want local leaders to get back to the basics, including getting the homeless off the streets and into shelters and services, and ending unsanctioned camping.
The second priority residents said they want to be addressed is public safety and crime.
Third, residents said we need to build our way out of our housing and cost of living crisis.
Hoan says we can no longer assume our economy will grow. Leaders, businesses, and residents will now have to aggressively support it to be successful.
Other key takeaways from the report:
- 32% increase in racial or ethnic diversity across portland’s population, since 2010
- $94,000 – earnings needed for a household of two adults, two children to achieve self-sufficiency in Portland
- $72,633 – median household income – second-lowest among peer regions
The PBA as well as area partners will be delivering the full address Thursday at 7:30 a.m.