Toward the end of today’s Oregonian front-page piece on crashed Bend, a long-time recalled the last occasion Bend went through hard times. He said that back then, people made a great effort to stay in the town. It may have been poverty for some, he suggested; but the operative phrase was that it was “poverty with a view.”
That seems to be an operative way of looking at it now, too.
Bend’s unemployment rate now is upwards of 16%, more than four points higher than Oregon’s overall, which sounds like a prescription for decamping and searching for work. It would suggest that the 80,000 or so people there – more than four times as many as a couple of decades ago (18,970 in 1988) – will start to drop, possibly fast.
And yet it isn’t looking that way. During a drive around Bend a few weeks ago, not a lot looked changed. There were scattered overbuilt subdivisions (doubtless plenty of those around town), but people do not seem to be tearing out of town. Traffic was just as lousy as it typically has been, businesses seem to be mostly occupied. The town doesn’t look shuttered.
At least not yet. If economic conditions stay down long enough, people eventually will migrate to where jobs are. But Bend seems pretty indicative of Oregon’s experience with unemployment, and a key reason the state’s unemployment rate often is higher than the nation’s: People are less willing to move from here. If bad times hit, they’ll go to more effort to wait it out, rather than move. Poverty maybe, but it at least has a view.
OF NOTE The Oregonian piece linked above also has attached a good video watch watching.Share on Facebook