Economists: For now, Portland growth to continue

New residents can't keep up with new jobs

The "Portland, Oregon" sign in downtown Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After years of boom, Portland’s economic growth is expected to recede to the median, according to Portland State University’s Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC).

The center’s economic forecast was made available to the public for the first time Wednesday morning.

“We think we’re settling into a period of time where we’ll see slower growth going forward for probably the next two years,” said NERC Director Tom Potiowski.

Northwest Economic Research Center Director Tom Potiowski, May 17, 2017 (KOIN)
Northwest Economic Research Center Director Tom Potiowski, May 17, 2017 (KOIN)

Portland still has several elements for economic growth: businesses are actively hiring, a lot of people are moving here to fill those jobs, and wages are going up, so people are expected to keep spending more.

The NERC forecast, however, expects job growth to fall back to about one percent after years of three percent job growth.

“We’ve been one of the top growing cities, both in terms of population and in terms of jobs,” Potiowski said. “It’s tough to be so booming when we’re almost at full employment.”

Full employment essentially means that even though Portland has had an influx of workers moving to the city, there still won’t be enough people to keep filling all the new jobs. In 2016, employment rose faster than population growth.

While growth is expected to slow, that could be good news for people already here who are tired of skyrocketing rent.

“With sort of the job growth that’s going be settling down with a slower growth rate, I think you’re going to see the house price appreciation start to slow down. (It’s) still going up, but at a slower rate,” Potiowski said.

The NERC economists will still be keeping a close eye on federal policy yet to be instituted under the Trump administration, but they already say federal immigration policy could likely result in labor shortages in both high tech and agricultural fields.