What's so Scary about a Recession?

September 3, 2001By Jeff Thompson Download PDF

A Long-term View of the State of Working Oregon

Executive Summary

Oregon's current economic downturn is generating a lot of discussion. Layoffs and rising unemployment are frequent headlines and there is constant speculation as to when the current slowdown will dip into recession. Much of the commentary, however, ignores important long-term changes in conditions for working Oregonians. Recession is cause for concern: short-term job losses and layoffs have significant costs for families and communities. Far more damaging, though, are the long-term consequences that working people face. Over the long-term, workers in Oregon are falling behind and are less protected when recession hits. The cyclical upturns that our economy produces have not been enough to bring economic prosperity and stability to working people.

The report shows:

The safety net that protects workers in periods of unemployment is often inadequate and fails to reach many that need it. Both Unemployment Insurance and the public assistance programs for poor single mothers need to be strengthened. Oregon workers need better protection from the worst of recessions, but they also need better ways to capture some of the benefits from expansions. Greater investment in education, improving the minimum wage, and successful union organizing will improve the economic well being of workers for years to come.