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The Oregon Economic Forum released their Central Oregon Business Index today. It shows the region’s economy has been in decline since the middle of last year (what some would call a “recession“). Some of the key findings are:

Central Oregon housing units sold have fallen to an average of 295 from a peak of 569, a decline of 48%.

Deschutes County building permits have fallen 58% from their peak last summer.

Deschutes County initial unemployment claims grew 29% in the second half of 2006 to 2,356, nearly a new record.

What do these stats have in common?

First of all, they are all real estate-related. Timothy Duy, author of the index, told the Bulletin that the local economy is now, “starting to work off a lot of the excesses… [built up during] a three-year run-up fueled by a hot housing market.” Bank of the Cascade’s recent financial filings corroborate this real estate-related weakness now affecting the community.

Secondly, all of these statistics show dramatically weaker activity than the national averages. The decline in local home sales volume and prices has been steeper than most areas around the country. With the trends in building permits and the jobless rate I would be surprised if we didn’t see a new record in unemployment claims in the first quarter.

Regarding the question on the toungue of every local resident, whether the local real estate market is likely to rebound soon, Mr. Duy told the Bulletin, “It’s not in the history of bubbles to repeat themselves.”

No, it’s in the “history of bubbles” to pop.

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