Oregon City Administrator Michael J. Beazley says Lucas County sales tax revenue is up seven percent and Oregon’s income tax revenue collections are up five percent from last year.
Beazley says that demonstrates that the local economy is showing signs of recovery, but still has a ways to go to meet levels from just a few years back.
“After several years of solid decline in Lucas County, this year is a year of pretty good reasonable growth so far,” Beazley said. “This is a reflection of income. People are now earning once again, or going back to work, and they are spending that money on goods and services. That is good for our local merchants and that in turn can be one of the first steps toward putting people back to work. We still have a ways to go.
“If you look at income taxes in particular, I’ll think you’ll see most cities in the region took a hit in 2009 and ’10, and we are starting to bounce back in a significant way. If you look at Oregon, Oregon’s revenue in 2010 was really coming in at about 85 to 90 percent of the numbers you would have seen in 2007 and ’08, or even 2009. That’s really telling us that people’s pay checks are smaller. The professionals are earning less money. People working in industrial jobs are working less overtime or in some cases were laid off. People working in the construction trades frequently were facing less employment.
“I want to emphasis we are still facing a challenging time for local residents, but that if you look in terms of straight income it is bouncing back in most communities across the region. That’s not back to the levels it was in 2008 and 2009, but it really shows you that earnings are up. When you look at withholding alone, which is really straight wage employment — that is back up to 2009 levels. In some of the other areas like professionals — perhaps realtors, attorneys, accountants — some of that income is still down a little bit over those historical averages.”
Beazley who has been with the city since March 2010, says the growth has started throughout the Toledo metro area.
“You will find that whether you are looking at Oregon, Toledo, or the Sylvanias or Maumees and on down the list. Each of the communities has a little better story to tell in terms of people going back to work and we feel good about that,” Beazley said.
“When you look at each individual city, there are individual stories there that contribute to their relative economic health. Oregon benefits from having four very large employers that are really hubs of economic activity here — our two hospitals, Mercy St. Charles and Bay Park with the ProMedica system, and with BP-Husky Refinery and the Toledo Refinery Group, the former Sunoco,” Beazley said.
In Oregon, Beazley said some recent announcements of local projects are contributing. Last month, it was announced that an $8 million expansion of the Rieter Automotive automobile supply operation in Oregon will bring 150 new local union jobs.
“As individual projects are being announced, that’s good, because there is some more construction work,” Beazley said. “Those are real strong sources of economic activity for Oregon. Each of those is doing well and both refineries have a lot of activity going on in terms of upgrades, renovations, capital projects — those all contribute to helping people working.
Beazley believes the increase in sales tax numbers shows people are spending again.
“Ultimately, people spend when they earn,” Beazley said. “When unemployment and income tax goes down, people hold on to spending because they don’t have the money or because they want to make sure they are saving it because they are worried about future employment.
"That is an indicator that people are earning money and spending it. There is more money going into people’s pockets in terms of wages, and that money is getting spent out front with goods and services. This is good for the community and ultimately then businesses make money buying and selling and shipping things and can put people back to work. There is no question that employment is still a real challenge here. Unemployment is still high and it’s actually running similar to the recessions in the early 80s and early 90s and early 2000s, where it took a long time for employment numbers to bounce back to historical highs,” Beazley said.
National numbers up, too
This week, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement on the October 2011 employment situation report:
“Our nation's labor market posted stable growth in the month of October. The economy added 104,000 private sector jobs last month, and we also added 102,000 more jobs than had previously been reported in August and September. The unemployment rate dropped to nine percent, its lowest level in six months.
“The number of long-term unemployed — defined as Americans out of work for 27 weeks or more — fell by 366,000 in October, the biggest drop since 1948. Additionally, the jobless rate for African-Americans dropped a percentage point to 15.1 percent, its lowest level since August 2009.
“We've now created 2.8 million jobs over 20 consecutive months of private sector growth, including more than one million jobs this year alone. GDP growth in the third quarter was 2.5 percent — the fastest rate in over a year and nearly twice that of the previous quarter. Businesses reported significantly fewer layoffs in October. Consumer and business spending are both up, reflecting Americans' increased confidence in our recovery progress.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see job losses in government and construction, both areas where passage of the American Jobs Act would have a direct and immediate effect on job creation. Overall, non-farm payroll added 80,000 jobs in October, reflecting the loss of 24,000 government jobs and 20,000 jobs in construction.
“Last week, the Senate voted down provisions of the American Jobs Act that would have helped keep teachers, police officers and firefighters on the job. This week, the Senate voted down a common-sense infrastructure bill that would have put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job. We cannot allow political partisanship to hamper the vital functions of our communities,” Solis continued.
“The policies this administration has pursued have added jobs back into the economy, but the pace of our recovery continues to be influenced by the failure of Congress to pass legislation to put Americans back to work. However, even in the absence of action by Congress, job growth since April has averaged 90,000 jobs, compared to the 11,000 monthly average during the Bush administration.”