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BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s economy continues to grow, but there are signs things are slowing. Experts will discuss what to expect in 2018 at Wednesday morning’s Economic Forecast Breakfast, hosted by the Bend Chamber.

 

The panel includes Damon Runberg, state economist for the Oregon Employment Department. He tells KBND News, "We have seen just a rapid expansion for the last 2.5 years; employment levels today in Deschutes County are 14% higher than they were back before the recession. We are in this real hot economy mode. You know that’s not going to stay forever, and that’s not to say we’re going to have a recession coming on, but we’re no longer going to see the levels of growth that we’ve seen in the last three, four, five years." He tells KBND News, "One of the things I’m going to focus on is trying to encourage business owners to think about where we are today, in kind of a different light."

 

Runberg says forecasts can be tricky so he doesn’t want to sound too optimistic; however, he believes the region won't experience a serious downturn anytime soon, "Although, it can happen at any time, I suppose. You know, no one ever saw the Great Recession coming; or only a handful of people really projected that one. But, there are no signs locally that we’re going to see that happen." 
 
Local unemployment rates are slowly climbing after a year of steady declines and some have blamed last winter’s extreme weather and the summer’s wildfire smoke and haze. But Runberg doesn’t expect those to cause long-term impacts. "I think, in general, some of these weather events can often be over-stated – their impact on the employment outcomes, as well as the impact you have on production, like Gross Domestic Product." He says the Professional sector is driving the region’s continued expansion, not Leisure and Hospitality, which saw the deepest impacts from this year’s weather. "We normally see a drop in our Leisure sector of about 6% in September; we saw a drop of about 8.5%. But, ultimately those jobs were seasonal and a lot of them were parttime and were going to be lost anyway, whether we moved into later September and October."
 
The Economic Forecast Breakfast at the Riverhouse Convention Center will also look at business lending trends and how Bend’s planning decisions influence the economy. It begins at 7 a.m., Wednesday. Click HERE for ticket information. 
 
Photo: 2016 Economic Forecast Breakfast, Courtesy Bend Chamber of Commerce

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