And they ain't comin' back

An alert reader pointed me to this story, which he heard on the radio but you can also read for free on the intertubes. While much of the rest of the state has largely recovered the job losses that came with the pandemic, Portland hasn't.

One place where jobs have been slower to return than the state as a whole is Multnomah County — home to the most people and most jobs in Oregon. The county has recovered only a little more than half of its lost jobs — 59% — according to numbers kept by the Oregon Employment Department. That slow recovery is dragging down the job numbers for the entire Portland metro area, including Southwest Washington, where 83% of jobs have recovered — slightly lower than the Oregon average of 87%....

The story is a little different in neighboring Clackamas and Washington counties, where 95% and 84% of jobs have returned, respectively....

State employment economist Gail Krumenauer says the list of reasons that the Portland area is taking longer to recover its lost jobs is “a bit longer and more varied” than for other parts of the state.

“With more corporate headquarters and more professional and technical services type jobs, it’s possible that Portland lags a bit more on the retail and restaurant type services because those office workers who would utilize those services on weekdays are still mostly (or at least more) in home office situations,” Krumenauer said in an email to OPB.

That is surely part of it, but there are other reasons. The two new local income taxes aren't helping. The basic breakdown of society on the streets isn't, either. And the arrogance of City Hall is too much to ignore.

Yes, the pandemic caused every employer to stop and think about what he or she is doing, and where. And a lot of them have decided that Portland isn't a good place to be conducting a business.

Who benefits? The suburbs, and the further out from the inner city, the better. I wrote about the sudden rise of Beaverton the other day, here. Just after posting that, I noticed that the Portland Jazz Festival has moved some of its events out to the 217 as well.

Yabba dabba doo.

If I were advising a business person who was thinking about moving a business to the Northwest, what would I say? First, above all, stay out of the City of Portland. Second, stay out of Multnomah County. Third, if possible, stay out of the Portland metro area on the Oregon side. Look at southwest Washington. See if you can make it work there.

That being my honest appraisal of the situation, here I still am. Inertia's a thing.


  1. That looks like my old office space, which is probably the way it looks now because the company I worked for at 101 Main moved to NW Portland. I have a friend who worked for Standard Insurance and I'm not sure if they moved back to the GP building. I haven't been downtown since 2019. I took a bus to work downtown for almost 20 years and photographed downtown on my lunch hour for over a decade using old analog equipment and making my own prints as well as digital. I have probably a few hundred pictures of the Occupy PDX event and tried to get Stumptown Blogger to display at the 10 year anniversary of the event but he wasn't interested.

  2. You're not wrong that everybody that can is heading for the exits as soon as their lease or other things tying them down is up.

    Tho this is trend in cities is & has been extant in American cities for some time besides Portland, we're just late to it?

    Some of it is just logistics & giant sprawling corporate business parks & getting the semi-trucks in & out as much as anything/built environment, which I guess you can *sort of* put on city hall (I'm not (knowingly/consciously?) apologizing or carrying any water for them?) the sense that they make development for the industrial life-blood of the city in the last 10 years a PITA & traffic/'planning' somehow worse in the dysfunction & are friendly to tourism & foreign investment in real estate weasel deals for monument-showpieces, gimmicks & boondoggles?

    Tho some of it is a lot of those vendors in inner SE industrial, airport way industrial etc. got swallowed/bought out by bigger/non local fish, some of it is the 2nd generation kids of those businesses didn't take them up/real estate went up + a potential buy out of the biz &/or the building they owned (or rent it & develop it themselves if their pockets were deep enough/inside knowledge or track was viable, 7experience & knowledge was there?), some of it is the port/ship yard couldn't make a deal?

    In the sense that's a lot of cities have a bunch of stuff/non 'work from home' jobs on their outer rings/edges, but hollowed out a lot in the middle, not just us?
    We're just late to the party...not that our absurd entrenched bureaucracy & PERS money vaccum is helping....

    Beaverton still has a bad night life & sketchy feel too, in addition to being a 70s/80s tract home 1 developer buys huge chunks of suburbia sh1t-hellcape with a lot of misery & divorce with a lot of their own BS taxes & annoying forms reaching in your pocket/taking up your time for the 'little guy' business wise (or it already did in 2011 when I worked out in that hell scape commuting from inner SE Portland).

    More money (on paper?) for those that own employee stock in the last of the tech bubble (what's left of it?), I guess?

    Immigrants liked the 'safe feel' of the Beaverton suburbia for desired places to live & never-ending dead-end cul-de-sacs/swirly streets, but it has a fair bit of crime...
    ..some of it is maybe law-of-attraction/confirmation biased in the reporting (pick up both Beaverton, Trashy-Tigard & Lake-no-negro (just touching the edge of Portland, here) in the nextdoor radius as the crow flies, tho immediately around me is blissfully silent for complainers (so far :eye-roll:); those people have more time & privilege to sit around on nextdoor/worry & complain/freak out about every little thing & are lonely/not that happy/want attention?

    & the industrial blight/freeway is a nice buffer from LO/mountain park, shoulder of the hills/Tualatin mountains for the rest.

    There's SW Washington, but they're starting with the parking & other downtown Portland BS in Vantucky now...but it's Vantucky??? Who wants to go there?
    & the party isn't going to be forever in SW WA, either?
    WA is good on the line items, but planning/big idea not so much?
    & like CA in the 50s-70s, the party probably isn't going to go on forever in WA since it's 80s libertopia tech bubble mid 80s-present?
    You think it's a PITA here, try living in CA!

  3. Trying to predict traffic patterns is certainly a riddle now, tho;
    -The old downtown choke points on the interstate system are no longer predictable.
    -Traffic was light in '08 when gas inflation-adjusted was ~6, but every idiot bought a giant SUV between ~1998-2004 when gas was cheap & the avg. compact SUV got 14-17mpg, cars got 22-35ish depending (mid-size or compact, non luxury/V8 cars anyway?), so people drove slower/traffic was lighter, but no pandemic; people drove a little less or took public transit. Work from home wasn't really 'a thing' yet (plenty of people had slow or no internet still).
    -Early covid many people got real excited & drove 100mph or something w/so much open road & got used to that, new cars are so fast & difficult to see out of people mash the pedal while texting & are fatigued/sick of driving not really thinking about the risk etc?

    It's hardly surprising that despite living in a low wreck/crime (auto theft anyway, tho that's ticking up along the arterial/more exposed streets w/bad lines of sight where neighbors don't keep a close eye on stuff & talk to each other?) zip code w/old fully depreciated fairly 'safe' cars & perfect driving record & credit for 10+ years & over age 25 now that I've watched the auto insurance bill creep up, even with USAA or a company that allows only 1 or 0 tickets/wrecks what with wrecks w/injuries, hit & runs & road fatalities being up ~1/3, despite total miles traveled being down for personal automobiles what w/ all people that can WFH being down ~1/3rd in 2020 & 2021 compared to 2019...

    What does this mean w/former Portland located businesses moving to Clack Co. (Gladstone, Or.-shitty (City), Lake O for the white collar criminal class & Wa. Co. for the techies & Nike china crap branding/marketing ponzi scheme?

    More driving around the outer ring roads, difficulty hitting as many vendors/places that actually make/fabricate stuff in the city's industrial districts within a quick lunch-hour jaunt for the self employed/contractors, existing public transit services work less well for the majority of people, having to own a car w/all the costs/liabilities that incurs, heavier use of unlimited access roads w/driveways & traffic lights sans modern roundabouts w/wild speed discrepancies, wrecks, & lots of pollution/idling w/pissed off & distracted drivers.

    This said, I'm not carrying water for Tri-met or spending a zillion dollars on street cars & trams or whatever other gimmicks & boondoggles as being a particularly viable &/or meaningful alternative to that...

    But it's good to 'have choices' & the new complexes/suburbs with their new shoddy crap aren't an answer either?
    The Portland dysfunction may be temporarily handing it to the 'burbs on a platter for now, but don't expect the party there to last forever, either?...

    Pretty hilarious how basically all the restaurants along the new mercantile development (after tearing down basically all of the shoddy '80s low-rise riverplace-eque development a short <30-35 years later LOL) in cruise woods are almost all owned by 1 group w/different brand names/logos/themes is all LOL. Somehow fitting for our times & LO especially...


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