Where are the jobs?

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board August 26, 2011 03:50 pm

There was considerable publicity earlier this month regarding some “good” economic news in Oregon.

We encased that word in quotation marks not because the news is in fact bad.

But we’re not convinced that it’s quite as good as some commentators have made it out to be.

Here’s the news: The Oregon Lottery, during the fiscal year that ended June 30, brought in more money than the previous year. That hadn’t happened since 2008.

The increase amounted to about 2 percent, from $1.02 billion to $1.04 billion.

"It's reflective of the economy," Lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann told The Oregonian.

Perhaps.

But more meaningful measures of the state’s economic health suggest that Oregon’s recovery from the recession remains sluggish at best, no matter how many people are sliding dollars into video poker machines.

Our unemployment rate, for instance, continues to exceed 9 percent.

Statewide, Oregon added a paltry 400 net jobs between February and July — an especially disappointing number considering the 20,000 jobs created during the previous four-month period.

The minor boost in Lottery revenue might mean, as optimists contend, that Oregonians are feeling more confident about their financial situation and thus willing to take risks.

But we’ll withhold our enthusiasm until that confidence translates into a consistent and significant increase in jobs.