Why this matters to Oregonians

The 2016 Economic Check-Up is good news in terms of growing jobs and rising incomes, reversing many years of stagnation. With the Great Recession behind us, Portland-metro is booming as new residents flock to the region.

Yet the prosperity is not shared by everyone. Some regional communities, particularly in East Multnomah County, have seen far less of the gains. Despite income growth, many lowand middle-income earners continue to be pushed further out as the population grows, affordability challenges soar and housing inventory remains low. Portland-metro is moving to a higher-income profile, but we have not adequately ensured the region remains a place where everyone can live and work.

First, the issue of housing affordability must be addressed. Portland-metro must make it a top priority to increase the supply of housing for all income levels. We must ensure adequate land supply for housing growth and a regulatory regime that encourages housing development across the region.

Second, growing and maintaining quality family-wage jobs must remain a top priority, even as the regional economy appears to be booming. Every resident must have access to quality jobs, and the region must address obstacles that block many from access to greater economic opportunity, whether it is educational outcomes, workforce training, hiring practices or other factors. The Value of Jobs partners are working to create change, including development of policies and practices that improve workforce training programs; and the regionís comprehensive economic development strategy, Greater Portland 2020, is focused on economic prosperity for all.

We must recognize that people may be living farther from where they work. As this trend continues, the regionís multimodal transportation infrastructure needs to evolve to handle a growing number of commuters going farther distances. Add in the freight traffic of a growing economy and area roads, bridges and rails are congested, and in need of significant maintenance and improvements.

Growth, affordability and equity are the greatest opportunities and challenges facing the region, and one common factor is access to quality jobs. That is what this Value of Jobs campaign is all about. Leaders and decision makers must stay focused on protecting and growing jobs while addressing critical issues like housing supply and affordability. It all works together. As Portland begins to look more and more like a major U.S. metro, it is urgent that we work on these issues as a community.