In the Bulletin business section front-page article, MOVING IN, MOVING OUT" is the comment by Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon, "which promotes business growth for the region."
"I don't see us getting in a situation where we're losing residents. All that is speculation, but there is nothing to back it up in the numbers. If all the jobs evaporated, that would be a game-changer, but net out-migration in 2009 is very dubious."
I think the way this works is: if it's positive, it's a 'prediction.' If it's negative, it's 'speculation.'
First of all, no one is saying "all the jobs" are going to evaporate, just some. Secondly, the claim that we won't lose residents is equally 'speculative.' And third, a guy's who's job is described as "...promotes business growth for the region..." is not exactly an objective party.
But I'll agree that looking out moving van activity is akin to reading tea leaves, or the entrails of an unfinished condo.
So lets look at a few facts.
FACT NUMBER ONE.
There were 7 building permits issued in Bend in December.
The previous low I remember is 14.
Seven is more like incidental leftovers than any sign of future building activity. I think I must have 7 customers per hour that work in the construction trade -- they can't ALL be working on those 7 projects, can they?
FACT NUMBER TWO.
"Deschutes County's construction labor force is 12 percent of its total work force, compared with about half that amount for the rest of the state."
Personally, I think that percent is low, but I'll take it at face value. Twice the number of builders, and no building....
FACT NUMBER THREE.
Bend had a near 10% unemployment rate. If that was the national number, there would be much mashing and grinding of teeth and howls of doom.
FACT NUMBER FOUR.
That was then, this is now. If you looked at Pegasus Book's sales numbers in the first half of 2008, they would look a tad better than what I expect in 2009.
BUT THERE ARE JOBS.
But no worries. Bend had "engineering, health care or renewable energy fields" jobs.
So...if you have an engineering degree, you're just fine.
Just rewrite that resume to include a doctorate or nursing degree, or a engineering degree. Better yet, proclaim yourself a renewable energy expert: I think just about ANYONE can do THAT.
But it seems to me that we've seen some high profile companies in these fields actually laying people off -- St. Charles being the most prominent of all. I've also heard from customers of engineering jobs about to go south in the near future. And I'm beginning to wonder if GREEN is just the next scam, even bubble, if you will.
The extent of this slowdown will be that even if we technically get immigration, it won't be all that noticeable.
I think we'll notice the slowing of growth more. If people do move here without a job in place, I think we'll see them leaving just as fast.
And it's very possible, we'll not grow at all.
3 days ago