Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Motorcyclist dies in Monday crash in northeast Salem, police looking for other driver

August 25, 2021 at 4:04pm

Oregon's economic outlook strong despite ongoing pandemic, with expected $1.9 billion "kicker"

CJ Jensen, co-owner at Big Peddler, discusses bicycle specifications with customer Sam Marr, of Salem, in downtown Salem on Thursday, April 2. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregon faces a rosy economic future even with the pandemic showing little sign of waning.

That's according to the latest state quarterly economic forecast released Wednesday, which showed state tax collection and lottery revenue was strong in 2021. Oregon is now expected to return to pre-pandemic employment levels by the third quarter of 2022, one quarter earlier than the previous forecast.

The report cautions any new pandemic shutdowns could significantly change the picture, but says absent new closures, the state's economy should see little impact from people spending less on entertainment and other in-person events temporarily during the Delta variant surge.

People are still spending less on services than before the pandemic, a concern because spending on services translates more readily into jobs than when people buy material goods.

"In recent months, Americans are going out to eat nearly as much as pre-pandemic, but overall spending on services remains lower due to other sectors like health care where elective surgeries and routine dentist appointments continue to be delayed. The gap between service spending and the pre-pandemic trend remains noticeable at 5% as of June, but the gap is closing. On the other hand, sales of physical goods continue to be robust and are holding steady at double-digits above pre-pandemic trends," the forecast said.

But federal aid and higher incomes are driving recovery, the report said.

"Strong household incomes, boosted considerably by federal aid during the pandemic, are the underlying driver. Consumers have no shortage of firepower if they want to and feel safe enough to spend. The key to the outlook remains translating this firepower into actual consumer spending, particularly in the hard-hit service industries. Firms today are trying to staff up as quickly as possible to meet this increasing demand," the forecast said.

Businesses are still struggling to find enough workers to fill available jobs, the forecast notes. And while increase unemployment insurance payments are part of the reason, the report notes the labor supply challenge is more complicated because of increased household savings.

The end of enhanced unemployment payments on Sept. 4 won't suddenly increase the number of Oregonians looking for work, the report says.

"In fact, preliminary analysis of the limited data available in the states that ended UI early indicate that job growth did not suddenly accelerate relative to the non-cutoff states. As such, it is more likely that once some of that excess savings is drawn down and households need more money to pay the bills – hopefully in a safer health environment as well – then labor supply will likely pick up," the report says.

Oregonians are also on track to see a record $1.9 billion kicker under the state's unique law which returns personal income tax revenues collected in excess of the state's budget to Oregon taxpayers. That would mean a $420 credit for the median taxpayer on 2021 returns filed next spring.

-Rachel Alexander

August 25, 2021 at 3:57pm

Data digest: Covid by the numbers for Aug. 25, 2021

Oregon Health Authority's graph showing people hospitalized with Covid in Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties as of Aug. 25, 2021.

With Covid cases and hospitalizations climbing in Oregon, Salem Reporter is keeping you informed of the latest numbers. Here’s our report for Wednesday, Aug. 25. 

New Covid cases reported in Marion County: 169

New Covid cases reported in Polk County: 35

Total Salem Hospital patients with Covid: 94 as of Wednesday morning, the same as Tuesday. Of those, 27 are in the intensive care unit, and 17 are on ventilators. Eighty-one of those in the hospital are not vaccinated against Covid.

Total Salem Hospital bed occupancy: 467 of 494 licensed beds in use

Total people hospitalized with Covid in Region 2 (Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton, Lincoln counties): 160, an increase of seven from Tuesday. Of those, 45 are in the intensive care unit and 21 are on ventilators.

Total Region 2 hospital bed occupancy: 85 of 97 staffed ICU beds and 664 of 703 non-ICU beds in use

New Covid deaths reported: 19 in Oregon, including one Marion County resident and no Polk County residents. The Marion County resident who died was an 89-year-old woman who tested positive on Aug. 15 and died on Aug. 23 at Salem Hospital. 

New Covid vaccines in Oregon: 4,458 new Covid vaccine doses administered on Aug. 24, including at least 2,951 first doses 

Source: Oregon Health Authority, Salem Health

-Saphara Harrell

August 25, 2021 at 12:09pm

Motorcyclist dies in crash in northeast Salem, police looking for other driver

A Salem motorcyclist died Monday night after colliding with a Chevy Tahoe, Salem police said.

Salem police are looking for the driver of a Volkswagen sedan who was traveling alongside the motorcyclist, 30-year-old Christopher James Martinez, on Portland Road. Both the sedan and motorcyclist ran through a red light, police said.

As the sedan and motorcycle neared the intersection, the Tahoe turned northbound onto Portland Road from Bill Frey Drive Northeast. Both collided with the Tahoe, police said. The driver of the Volkswagen sedan fled the scene.

Martinez died at the hospital.

Police said the Tahoe driver was treated by Salem Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries and is cooperating with the investigation.

The Salem Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying the driver of the Volkswagen sedan. Anyone with information is asked to call the Salem Police Traffic Team at 503-588-6293.

-Saphara Harrell