Rolling Our Way to Recovery

Lots of doom and gloom on the blog these days, so here's something that should give cheer. The Wall Street Journal's Jim Carlton examines the lumber market in Oregon and sees good signs:

Swanson Group Inc. says it has rehired 200 people out of the 720 positions it eliminated at its area mills during the recession and expects to add an additional 50 by late spring, bringing total employment to 800 compared with 550 in 2009. Another big producer, Seneca Sawmill Co., says it has restored hours for its 375 employees in the Eugene area, who now are almost back to the five-day work weeks they had before the recession.

Local Lane County officials say that, with as many as five jobs created for each one in lumber, the resurgence is providing an overall economic boost. The unemployment rate in the Eugene metropolitan area of 350,000, which is home to the University of Oregon, dipped in December to a four-year low of 8.2% from 9% a year earlier and a recession peak of 12.8% in 2009, according to seasonally adjusted data from the Oregon Employment Department.

There is one caveat: it seems at least some of the growth comes from increasing Chinese demand. That said, it's good to see housing markets begin to recover, it's good to see people going back to work, and it's good to see things starting to look a little more like normal.