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Prediction: The Bottom's Still a Long Way Off 

Oregon still has the second-highest unemployment rate in the US, but some see a silver lining in the fact that at least the rate didn't

Oregon still has the second-highest unemployment rate in the US, but some see a silver lining in the fact that at least the rate didn't rise in April - it stayed at 12%, the same as in March.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy, though, has found a cloud behind the silver lining behind the cloud. Looking at the ratio of Oregon workers to available jobs, the center calculates that our employment picture is worse now than it was six years ago, and is likely to remain bleak "well into the next decade."

An analysis of state employment numbers released last week "shows that there are fewer jobs for working-age Oregonians than in the worst year of the previous recession, which was 2003," the OCPP says in a press release. "The analysis ... also shows that the ratio of jobs to workers will not surpass the 2003 low point until 2015."

According to the OCPP's calculations, there presently are 67.2 nonfarm payroll jobs in Oregon for every 100 working-age Oregonians, compared to 70.2 jobs for every 100 in 2003.

And OCPP analyst Michael Leachman said things are likely to get worse before they get better: In 2010, the ratio is expected to fall to 65.7 jobs per 100 workers.

Leachman said the scarcity of private-sector jobs is an argument for "public investments [to] preserve and create jobs in the short term and bring matching federal dollars into the state economy. In the long term, they help lay the foundations for future growth."

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