After a recession, the Western United States usually bounces back and leads the economy going forward. That hasn’t happened this time, leading to a sense of alienation for the region. But, that could push the West toward more innovation and economic prosperity.
Paul Taylor at Governing.com talked with experts about the current situation in the West and where the region is headed. Oregon Pollster Adam Davis says the West doesn’t have the “business clout” as the rest of the nation, so it’s hard to get the attention of Washington, D.C.
A crisis is a crisis, but Davis, whose three decades of work have focused on the Northwest and Pacific coast, says there are regional differences. "The housing bust has really hurt the West," he says. "It affected everyone from sawmills to construction to real estate attorneys, the nursery business -- everything." He worries that economic doldrums, a jobless recovery and social upheaval could add up to something unprecedentedly bad: "We think it's been tough up to now. We haven't seen anything yet."
Another expert is Brookings’ Mark Muro who collaborated on a study concluding that increasing exports will push job creation in the West.
When you reorient yourself to the Pacific Ocean, what old geography books called the Far East reappears as the Near West. "Export jobs are good paying, and export markets -- especially in Brazil, India, China and other developing nations -- are growing at a time of tepid growth and a sluggish recovery at home and in the West," says Muro. "So for individuals, companies, regions and the nation, stressing exports in goods and especially services makes a ton of sense and offers -- in our view -- a critical entry into the 'next economy,' which will be increasingly export driven, low carbon and innovation fueled."