Report shows Medford's economic decline

Southern Oregon's recent struggles were underscored in a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report released today.

The Medford Metropolitan Statistical Area, which takes in all of Jackson County, was in the bottom third nationally during 2009 when the local gross domestic product plunged for the second year in a row.

Jackson County's inflation-adjusted gross domestic product for 2006 was $6.118 billion. The local economy stalled in 2007, growing by just $2 million to $6.12 billion — statistically no growth according to the government. That was followed by a 4.7 percent decline to $5.834 billion in 2008 and even sharper 5.2 percent drop to $5.53 billion during 2009.

From the end of 2007 to the end of 2009, Jackson County's unemployment rate more than doubled to 11.9 percent from 5.9 percent.

"The largest contributor to the negative growth industry was construction of homes and commercial establishments," said Ralph Rodriguez, an economist with the bureau in Washington, D.C. "The second largest subtractor from growth was durable goods, such as boat building."

Construction alone subtracted 1.65 percent from the local GDP.

During 2009, 292 — 80 percent — of the nation's 366 metro areas saw economic decline. Only 77 had it worse than Medford. In the Far West region that takes in Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada, 35 of the 48 metros slipped. Only 10 saw a worse drop than Medford.

Nationally, real GDP fell 2.4 percent in 2009 after declining 0.4 percent in 2008.

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