Oregon Business Leaders Losing Confidence in the Economy

Oregon business leaders have a "cup half empty" attitude toward the state's economy.The outlook for the Oregon economy among the state’s business leaders is downright scary. Just one in four (25 percent) think the Oregon economy will improve during the next year. Optimism is down 12 points compared to May 2010 results when 37 percent said the Oregon economy would improve.

At least decision-makers are somewhat more upbeat about their own business outlook. Thirty-eight (38) percent forecast their business will improve during the next 12 months. However, these results are down nine points from 2010 when 46 percent expected better times.

Results are based on an online survey among 660 Oregon business leaders conducted in September 2011 by CFM Strategic Communications and Oregon Business magazine.

The top concerns regarding Oregon’s economy are jobs (62 percent) and the state’s tax structure (57 percent). With Oregon’s adjusted unemployment rate holding steady at 9.6 percent (see Oregon Employment Office for details) it is no wonder jobs are a top concern.

Business leaders say the most effective way to give Oregon’s economy a shot in the arm would be to attract new business to the state. As a side note, CFM is working with several city, county and regional governments to find ways to boost economic development. Cutting both business and personal income taxes and implementing zero-based state budgeting are other actions business leaders say will help the state’s economy.

Survey results suggest a cup-half-empty attitude. In fact, there are some encouraging signs the economy is improving. Nationally, 160,000 new jobs were added in August and September. Retails sales increased 1.1 percent in August and have been on the rise since June. Manufacturing orders also are up. Anecdotally, leaders from Oregon’s trucking and rail industries tell CFM demand for shipping is increasing.

Certainly the economy is still only muddling along, and Oregon business leaders know this. Yet, even modest signs of improvements are encouraging.