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John Mitchell: With continuing uncertainty, 'we will come back in a different place'

North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce will host economist John Mitchell for a Zoom forum at noon Tuesday, March 30.

Mitchell's presentation titled "Infection, Recession, Restoration" will cover the outlook, risks and some longer-term implications of how the 2020 pandemic and our response to it resulted in an unanticipated recession with disparate impacts on different sectors of the economy and society. He noted that policy makers continue to respond to the pandemic forcefully with both monetary and fiscal measures.

FILE PHOTO - MitchellWhile all 50 states went through a period of employment declines, Oregon's job growth went from the top tier to the middle of the pack, according to Mitchell's analysis.

"Output and employment began to rebound late last spring, but the upturn was hindered by a surge in infections and new restrictions," he said.

Mitchell sees the onset of the vaccination programs, behavior modification and additional stimulus as setting the stage for a strengthening economy in 2021.

"There is lot of uncertainty about the virus, people's comfort levels, and the health of business entities," he said. "We will come back a different place."

In 2018, Mitchell bucked an emerging trend among many of his colleagues by not warning of a looming recession.

Instead, during his annual Economic Forecast to the Portland Business Alliance in 2018, he predicted the economy would continue growing through 2019, making it the largest expansion in U.S. history by June. Mitchell was proven correct: The economy had been expanding since 2009, and the recession finally hit in 2020 from something nobody had predicted, a global pandemic.

In 2018, the Wall Street Journal surveyed 60 private-sector economists, 59% of whom predicted a recession in 2020.

A former professor of economics at Boise State University, Mitchell has become a popular speaker in Oregon, since he is a surprisingly entertaining speaker for an economist. He is known for punctuating his presentations with intentionally bad puns, allusions to obscure historical figures, references to current political events and original poems to summarize his forecast.

"John is well known for his informative yet good-humored presentations that provide current information that businesses can use in their decision-making," said North Clackamas Chamber CEO Laura Edmonds.

Pamplin Media Group reporter Jim Redden contributed to this news story.

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