A modicum of good news for Oregon’s economy: the state’s top economist believes that by spring Oregon will finally recover the number of jobs that it lost in the aftermath of the 2000 recession. That is, barring energy price spikes, surging interest rates, or stock dives. So it’s a cautious prediction.

But even if the prediction comes true, the state’s unemployment rate will likely remain higher than the national average for the foreseeable future. In fact, the most recent stats (November 2004) show Oregon with the highest unemployment rate, 7.1, of any state besides Alaska.

Oh, and one other caveat. In the four-plus years it has taken Oregon’s economy to (nearly) regain its 64,500 lost jobs, the state’s population has grown by around 164,000. A growing population—and its corollary, a growing labor force—means that Oregon must add jobs just to keep unemployment rates steady, let alone make up for lost ground. And there’s a lot of ground to make up:  in 2000, for instance, Oregon boasted an unemployment rate of just 4.9, just a tad higher than the national rate.