Editor’s note: The Bulletin has partnered with the University of Oregon’s College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Economics to produce the Central Oregon Business Index. The index provides a regular snapshot of the region’s economy using economic models consistent with national standards. The index, exclusive to The Bulletin, appears quarterly in the Sunday Business section.

The Central Oregon Business Index posted its 28th consecutive quarter of growth in the three months that ended June 30, rising from 145 to 145.8.

Although the gain was a fraction of a percent, Tim Duy, University of Oregon economics professor and index author, said it’s significant.

“The key is that it’s still rising. It’s not falling,” Duy said. “The direction is important.”

The index benchmark is 100 in 1998. It comprises nine variables, which are adjusted for seasonality.

Travel and tourism were the highlights of the second quarter. Redmond Airport saw a record in seasonally adjusted passenger activity with 74,367 people boarding and exiting planes. That was up 17.6 percent from the first quarter.

Lodging tax revenue rose 2 percent from the first quarter to $2.97 million.

Redmond Airport is forecasting growth in passenger activity to continue at 4 percent a year for the next 20 years, said Zach Bass, airport director. In the next five years, the airport expects to expand the terminal waiting area, allowing for construction of jet bridges, he said.

Currently passengers board from the tarmac, and they don’t have far to climb because most of the planes that land at Redmond Airport are regional jets. That’s changing though. In July Alaska Airlines began running a daily flight to Seattle on a Boeing 737-800, which has almost twice as many seats as the largest regional jets.

“Airplanes are getting larger,” Bass said. “If you can accommodate them, you’re growing with the industry. If you can’t, then you’re losing air service.”

The airport’s master plan includes a runway extension in 12 to 15 years, Bass said. “The 20-year mark is when we’re going to have to look at a really large expansion of the whole terminal.”

Measures of employment and housing seem to have stabilized, Duy said.

Deschutes County payrolls grew 4 percent to 84,500 jobs over the 12-month period ending in June. “It’s not a bad equilibrium,” Duy said. “That 7 percent stuff,” he said, referencing the job-growth rate in 2015, “That’s just not sustainable. Cooling it down probably gives everybody a chance to catch their breath.”

New unemployment claims jumped 13 percent to 1,722 since the first quarter, but jobless claims remain very low, Duy said.

The housing market appears to be settling into a pace of around 450 sales a year and 150 to 200 new building permits issued each month in Deschutes County, Duy said. Although that’s not enough new housing to sate demand, Duy said, Central Oregon still could see home-price increases slow, similar to what’s happening in the Portland area.

“When does this end? It ends when people can’t afford to pay these prices anymore,” Duy said. “It doesn’t have to be a dramatic, ‘Oh, my God, this is 2007 again.’

“I’m not sure we can say it’s happening quite yet in the Bend market.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com

21060007