How Oregon’s Economic Forecast Will Affect Your Wallet

By Rep. Dwayne Yunker

Democrats will look you straight in the eye and tell you that Oregon’s economy is booming. Why? A rosy economic forecast helps them justify astronomical government spending, minimizes the possibility of returning another massive kicker tax refund to Oregonians and ultimately makes it easier for them to stay in power.

I’ll explain how as we dig into Oregon’s June economic and revenue forecast report published by Gov. Tina Kotek’s Office of Economic Analysis. While it may be juiced, the forecast is full of red flags, confirming what Oregon families know to be true: Oregon’s economy is underperforming.

Oregon economic and revenue forecast

In formulating the forecast, state economists pull together national and local economic and demographic data plus a lot of assumptions to make a prediction about the Oregon economy over the next 10 years. The forecast estimates include the size of the economy, jobs, wages, income, spending, population and tax payments available for politicians to spend.

The bottom line: Despite the best attempts to spin it, the truth is Oregon’s economy is not booming. The forecast continues to show poor post-pandemic recovery, both in terms of GDP and jobs.

GDP, or gross domestic product, is the total monetary value of all the goods and services produced in the economy, a measure of economic health. But Oregon is not producing. The best estimate for Oregon’s future annual GDP growth, according to the forecast report (p. 45), is less than 2%.

The jobs outlook is even worse. “Over the past year Oregon’s payroll job growth has been among the lowest, with essentially no job growth in that time,” write state economists in the forecast report (p. 4). “This is nearly unheard of in the state’s modern history.” That’s right, folks. Unheard of.

For many reasons, including the state’s geography, climate and abundant natural resources, Oregon’s economy has historically outperformed the national average. Not anymore. Democrat policies are now making Oregon a hard place to raise a family and run a business. 

A state in decline

The payroll job growth data confirms what Oregonians have noticed for years. Businesses are shutting down and leaving the state. Oregon manufacturing, in particular, is not keeping pace with what’s happening nationally. For example, Oregon employment is negative and below the national average in every manufacturing subsector except computer/electronic (p. 7), which is being propped up with CHIPS Act federal funding.

While jobs aren’t growing, demographic data show “a record share of working-age Oregonians have a job” (p. 5). Fewer jobs? But more labor force participation? Make it make sense. Two factors can make this true. Oregon’s working-age population is in decline, due in part to people leaving the state. Meanwhile, more women in Oregon are unmarried and childless, driving up female labor force participation. Neither statistic points to a stable future for Oregon.

Immigration and housing

But the most eye-popping statistic cited in the forecast report is the huge spike in illegal immigration in the last two years. The forecast reports illegal immigration of over 2 million more than recent Census Bureau estimates (p. 3).

While job growth is stagnant in Oregon, the surge of illegal immigration at our nation’s southern border threatens to strain Oregon’s state resources. In the report, state economists claim illegal immigration will grow Oregon’s economy.

But as the research director for the Center for Immigration Studies testified to the congressional budget committee in January, “illegal immigrants are a net fiscal drain, meaning they receive more in government services than they pay in taxes.” For example, this year the Democrat majority pushed and passed new taxpayer funding for education, housing and programs for the illegal immigrants being resettled in Oregon.

Oregon’s sanctuary-state laws leave the state vulnerable to mass illegal immigration, all while job growth, housing supply and state resources are constrained. 

Back to basics

Republicans have a plan to get Oregon’s economy back on track. A more prosperous economy starts with making Oregon a place where families want to live: affordable housing, clean and safe streets, an end to the drug crisis and a prosperous economy. We must also reform burdensome corporate regulations and taxes that are causing businesses to flee our state. 

Why the Democrats juiced the forecast

Looking ahead to the 2025 legislative session, state agencies have already started crafting their budget funding requests for the 2025-27 biennium. The inflated economic forecast will be used to justify bloated budgets. An inflated forecast also serves to minimize the chance of a large kicker tax refund in 2026. The kicker is triggered when tax receipts come in over 2% higher than the forecast predicted. Returning taxpayer money to the people makes Democrats crazy.

Looking ahead

Even if Oregon’s wages, incomes and tax revenues are currently strong, they won’t stay that way if Oregon isn’t producing more goods and services and creating more good jobs.

As Oregon’s June economic forecast proves, the Democrats’ version of economic development – more taxes, more government programs – isn’t working.

Economic prosperity in Oregon is on the ballot this November. Voters have a choice. Vote for Democrats who will vote as a bloc to crush small businesses with climate activism and the like, steal the kicker and implement a statewide property tax if they pick up a supermajority of seats in the legislature. Or choose Republicans who will unleash real economic prosperity by reducing the regulatory and tax burden on businesses and make Oregon a great place to raise a family again.

Rep. Dwayne Yunker is a Republican from Grants Pass who represents Oregon House District 3, Josephine County. Contact him at www.oregonlegislature.gov/yunker.