BEND, OR -- Dr. Bill Watkins delivered a positive economic forecast for Central Oregon, this morning. He offered his report at this morning's annual business conference at the Riverhouse in Bend. Watkins is the Executive Director for the Center for Economics at Cal Lutheran. "We're on the upswing. We expect a good economy nationwide with falling oil prices and we're getting momentum. In Bend and Central Oregon, they're tied very closely to California, particularly the Bay Area, and they've been extremely hot lately with real estate going and that runs into Central Oregon." Although, Watkins warns, "I would like to see diversification away from the tie-in with California. In so many ways you depend on California and I have long-term concerns."
He tells KBND News, economic activity is increasing, as are property values. Some job sectors now have more jobs than they did pre-recession, like education and healthcare. But, other industries like manufacturing and construction may never recover to pre-recession levels. Watkins believes Deschutes County will continue to experience strong economic growth this yaer, with strong GDP and job growth over the next two years. The outlook for Crook and Jefferson counties isn't as strong, but Watkins expects those economies will continue to grow.
He has been delivering these annual forecasts since 1999, and says it's nice to bring good news. "This is wonderful. We haven't had an optimistic forecast like this one ever in Central Oregon. I'm glad to see it. But, being a worry wart, I would like to encourage the community to try to diversify from California."