BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s economic growth has slowed in recent months, and it may be a sign that we’ve reached our limit. Regional Employment Economist Damon Runberg says
Regional Employment Economist Damon Runberg says every economy goes through cycles, influenced by supply constraints. "In our case, that supply constraint is labor. And so, we were starting to see the amount of available labor in the market really start to shrink and we knew eventually we had to get to this point where businesses could not hire at the same rate that they were because there just wasn’t enough warm bodies to fill those positions." And, he says that shortage of qualified workers is putting upward pressure on wages, "If you’re a worker, today is a great time, because you’re more in demand today than you will be in other parts of the business cycle. But if you’re a business today, there could be a lot of distinct struggles that you’re dealing with. And, finding the qualified applicant that you’re looking for at an affordable rate, that’s a real challenge."
With sustained record-low unemployment, Runberg says it was only a matter of time before inflation kicked in, "You want to see wage gains, but not at too extreme of a level. So far, inflation nationally doesn’t look too extreme. But, we’re not necessarily representative of that. We’ve seen much faster growth in our employment numbers, we’ve seen much faster growth locally in housing prices and other things. So, I think, locally, our inflation actually has already kicked in; we’re seeing higher costs of goods and services in Central Oregon, and the most obvious one is housing alone."
To hear our full conversation with Economist Damon Runberg, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.