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Portland’s Economic Comeback Story 

October 13, 2017
SVN Staff

Like many cities during the recession of late 2000’s, Portland suffered through shrinking economy, drop in real estate price and loss of jobs. However, in the past decade, Portland has battled back and proved itself to be stronger than ever.

“Over a decade, Portland’s high-wage job growth, household income gains, and rising levels of educational attainment have been transformational. Portland has pulled away from its former economic peers” among large U.S. metro areas, writes Josh Lehner, an economist in the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. Lehner also pointed out that since the recession of the late 2000’s, Portland has managed to transform into:​

  • Ranking fifth–best in both high-wage job growth and increases in educational attainment.

  • Forty percent of Portland’s working-age population holds a college degree, a 6 percentage point increase over the decade that is more than twice the typical gain.

  • The metro’s poverty rate is lower than before the Great Recession.

  • While the typical large metro has not recovered its losses, Portland’s median household income is now nearly 9 percent higher than before the Great Recession, adjusted for inflation. This is the fourth best increase among metros since 2007.

  • Portland now has the 19th highest median household income among the large metros. In 2007 Portland ranked 32nd highest income.

Lehner continues, “The region’s high quality of life and strong economic foundation drive some of this growth. However, Portland’s most important strength is its ability to attract and retain talent. Only a few select metros see such strong migration rates among young college graduates. Portland is right there with the Bay Area, Denver, Raleigh, Seattle, and Washington D.C.”

These are encouraging signs for a city that lacks many corporate headquarters such as San Francisco and Seattle. The city of Portland has worked hard to develop a more diverse economy and is embodying the spirit of Portland by finding success through creative and unique approach.

To read more economist Josh Lehner’s report, please visit Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. 

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