PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Portland is still recovering. But according to new State of the Economy and State of Downtown & Central City reports, Portland’s Central City is struggling to recover and needs help.

The reports, by the Portland Business Alliance and Downtown Portland Clean & Safe, highlight the changes within Portland over the course of 2022 and looks to showcase a path forward for the city in 2023.

The State of the Economy report looked at job recovery rates, as well as taxes, affordability and population.

2023 marks the first release of the State of Downtown & Central City report which looks further at the specific economic status of downtown Portland’s districts.

According to the reports, Portland is seeing a continued trend of job recovery, with 5.4% job growth in 2022, compared to a job loss rate of over 5% in 2020, however, the report points out that the growth rate still falls behind pre-pandemic levels.

The reports also showed continued rising tax rates, and unaffordability in Portland, with a 32% increase in taxes to local businesses since 2019.

The PBA tied the rising costs in Portland with a decrease in population in Multnomah County, with a population decline of 12,691 people, and a high amount of migration to Clark County, Washington.

In terms of downtown Portland, the Downtown & Central City report found that employee foot traffic in the central city was at 48% and in the downtown district it was sitting at 65%, both of which are below 2019 levels.

Vacant office space across the central city also skyrocketed since 2020, with a total of over 8 million square feet of unused space, which is more than double what it was in quarter four of 2022.

PBA concludes that while things are returning to pre-pandemic numbers, there is still a lot to be done.

“While our regional economy is trending in a positive direction after having recovered all the jobs lost from the pandemic, it is the heart, Central City Portland, that is struggling and needs help,” said Portland Business Alliance President & CEO Andrew Hoan. “Without urgent and focused interventions that deploy every available tool to help return livability and vibrancy to our downtown, we will not enjoy the promise of shared economic prosperity that is vital for our region and the state.”