Oregon’s Business Environment

For years, there's been a pitched debate about Oregon's business environment. Beyond the rhetoric, what are the facts? As it turns out, Oregon is a great place to live and do business--but there's much more to be done in order to make sure that businesses and families can thrive.

Here are some of the basic facts about Oregon's economy:  

The Good News

GDP: In 2011, Oregon had the second highest growth rate in Gross domestic Product in the country. At a growth rate of 4.7 percent, Oregon has second only to North Dakota. Oregon’s increase in GDP far outstripped the national growth rate of 1.5 percent, and is more than double the growth rate of Washington at 2 percent.

Manufacturing: In 2011, Oregon’s manufacturing industry increased output by 15 percent.

Taxes: According to the Council on State Taxation, Oregon is in the bottom five states for overall tax burden on businesses. We have the absolute lowest business taxes on the West Coast.

Business Friendliness: Last year, Forbes ranked Oregon as the 9th best state in the country to do business.

Unemployment: Oregon’s unemployment rate has dropped from a high of 11.6% at the peak of the recession to about 8.5% now.

Jobs: Between 2010 and 2011, as we began recovering from the recession, Oregon added 23,497 private sector jobs. However, those gains were offset by cuts to public sector jobs (education, health care, etc.), bringing the total jobs gain down to 18,007. [Covered Employment and Wages Summary Reports]

Anecdotal: Countless companies have announced that they are moving to or expanding in Oregon since the economic recovery began (and certainly since the passage of Measures 66 and 67). A very small sampling of those businesses (just from 2010) can be found here: http://oregonopenforbiz.org/

For more information on Oregon’s ongoing positive economic story, see the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

The Bad News

Though there’s plenty of good news, there is much that Oregon needs to do in order to continue being a great place to do business. Primarily, we need to reinvest in education (from kindergarten through college) and infrastructure that businesses need in order to succeed. We’re currently doing the opposite.

Class Sizes: Oregon now has the third highest class sizes in the country. At a pupil to teacher ratio of 20.3, Oregon is better than only two states: Arizona and Utah.

Class Sizes, Cont.: In order for Oregon to have class sizes at just the national average, we would have had to hire 9,000 more teachers last year. Instead, we laid off hundreds of teachers.

Class Sizes, Cont.: Class sizes in Oregon high schools increased by 28.6% from 2009 to 2011.

Per-Pupil Spending: Oregon spends 7 percent less per pupil than the national average.

Higher Education: Oregon is 45th in the nation for per-pupil spending on higher education. Only five states spend less on colleges and universities than we do.

For more information, visit Equity Alliance Oregon.