BY BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Several market indicators suggest the overall economy is slowing but that doesn’t necessarily mean the national or local economies are heading into recession.
That was the overall message presented at Thursday’s Bend Chamber of Commerce annual Economic Impact Breakfast.
Keynote speaker Lindsey Piegza, Chief Economist for Stifel Fixed Income based in Chicago, says business owners and operators, investors and ordinary folks should pay attention to the slowing economy.
She says Americans are still finding jobs and workers wages are growing, but at at a slower pace.
“When we look at some of the other indexes, particularly business investment, this is actually trended outright negative. Businesses are no longer investing, they are pulling back in terms of capital flows and sitting on that cash,” Piegza said. “They are very hesitant to put that to work. As they look out to the future of the economy they don’t necessarily believe we will be able to perpetuate this economy. If they see the economy beginning to slow, they are go to hoard that cash for some time.”
If an interactive survey of Chamber breakfast attendees about hiring new workers, maintaining their workforce or laying off workers is any indication, the local economy is in a Goldilocks zone of not too hot, not too cold, but just right at about 2% annual growth rate.
“The question is how long can we stay in this zone. And the answer is we don’t know when the next shock is going to happen,” said Damon Runberg, regional economist with the Oregon Employment Dept. “Listening to Lindsey was kind of encouraging. Although there are signs of concerns in the broader economy there was nothing that was impending or going to happen tomorrow. We could stay in this zone for a while. What happens at the national level does not necessarily affect us locally. I have a feeling we’ll be a little more insulated from the next recession than we were the last recession because we won’t be getting the full brunt of what came down with the housing bubble bursting.”
Runberg says Central Oregon’s quality of life continues to attract new comers who bring jobs with them, relocate businesses or start new ones once they move here.