Here is The Oregonian’s weekly look at the numbers behind the state’s economy. View past installments here.
Layoffs are down. Unemployment is falling. And Oregonians are feeling considerably better about their own financial outlook.
The number of Oregonians who say they are worried, or very worried, about their personal financial situation has fallen by 14 points since March, according to new polling from DHM Research.
DHM has polled Oregonians on their feelings about their finances every year since 2011, and four more times since March. Fears spiked at the beginning of Oregon’s coronavirus shutdown, with 63% expressing worries about their own financial situation. That’s on par with the aftermath of the Great Recession.
Sentiments have sharply rebounded, though, and are now back to pre-pandemic levels. The number of people expressing worries fell from 63% in March to 49% in both June and September.
DHM thinks that supercharged federal unemployment benefits, paying an extra $600 a month through July, federal stimulus payments and increased savings due to lack of spending opportunities during the pandemic may have improved sentiments.
Those programs have expired, though, and consumer spending has rebounded. So have Oregonians’ sentiments.
Oregon’s economy has much faster than forecasters expected from the pandemic, with unemployment dropping from nearly 15% in April to 17.7% in August – below the national rate of 8.4%. The state has recovered more than 40% of the jobs it lost in the first months of the pandemic.
Notably, political leaders aren’t getting much credit for the recovery. DHM’s poll found 51% have a negative impression of Gov. Kate Brown and 60% have a negative impression of President Donald Trump.
And while Oregonians are feeling much better about their own circumstances, they’re not feeling great about the economy overall. A plurality, 46%, think the economy is getting worse and just 9% think it’s getting better.
Financial worries are most acute among those in households where someone has experienced a layoff, among younger workers and those with no more than a high school education.
That tracks with state labor data, which shows the coronavirus has hit younger and lower-paid Oregonians hardest — reflecting the deep toll the pandemic shutdown has taken on the retail and hospitality sectors.