In 2011, Oregon finds itself in a fiscal crisis. The state relies on personal income taxes for approximately 85 percent of General Fund revenues, so many economists feel that no single economic statistic is more critical to the state’s financial health than per capita personal income (PCPI). Unfortunately, the gap between Oregon PCPI and national averages has continued to widen. With Oregon’s population projected to grow over the coming decade, are there any viable solutions the state could implement to raise personal incomes, thereby generating higher state revenues?
In 2011, legislative activity in the U.S. Congress and the Oregon State Legislature promises to have a powerful and lasting impact on the economic and employment trends that will shape Oregon’s future. On the federal level, Congress has placed funding for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) squarely on the chopping block. Recent budget proposals passed in the House, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, could “translate into [the loss of] a couple of hundred thousand jobs.” In Oregon, loss of WIA funding would gut many critical WorkSource Oregon programs, such as occupational training services, talent development services, and the federal funding needed to keep local employment offices open and operational.
Meanwhile, members of the State Senate and House of Representatives are considering various important fiscal proposals and education initiatives, not to mention legislation to establish new programs and funds for on-the-job training, employer workforce training, and youth employment. But does the Legislature have the necessary political will to pass some or all of the numerous economic-related measures currently pending in both chambers?
The oldest members of the baby boom generation—Americans born between 1946 and
1964—are now turning 65 years old. For the bulk of the baby boom population,
that's full retirement age. Retirees will access state retirement funds,
health care, and social services for the elderly in record amounts,
while a smaller number of working adults will be making contributions
to maintain these services and funds. What are the fiscal consequences
of baby boom retirements, and how difficult will it be for employers
to find replacement workers with the hard and soft skills they require?