Economic growth in Deschutes County is not only outpacing most other Oregon cities, it’s seeing some of the biggest gains in the nation.
That’s according to economists who presented the annual economic forecast sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce in Bend on Wednesday.
Deschutes County’s gross domestic product grew by more than 8 percent in the last year. Recent figures show the national average increase for GDP was around 3 percent.
“Which is phenomenal growth,” said state economist Damon Runberg. “We tied for the fastest growth of all metro areas in the United States.”
Bend tied with a Louisiana community going through an oil boom. Runberg said central Oregon’s growth is more diversified — with sectors from housing and financial to manufacturing and technology all expanding. Tourism also contributed to growth in the region.
But while that’s good news for business, it’s difficult for some workers.
“You would assume that in those situations the markets would start to see increases in wages, as they have to compete more and more for the workers that are out there,” Runberg said. “But when you adjust for the cost of living, we’ve seen that the wages in Deschutes County have been really flat, really stagnant the last three or four years.”
Runberg said that while economic growth is starting to slow in Central Oregon, he doesn’t foresee another recession.
“It looks like we’re starting to see our economy take a breath, slow down,” he said.