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February 29th, 2012 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Bohemian Babylon?

Are hipsters to blame for Oregon’s high unemployment rate?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall
     
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Would I be wrong in assuming that Oregon’s high unemployment rate has been brought on by hip, jobless twentysomethings who move to Portland to embrace a bohemian lifestyle supported by Oregon tax dollars? 

—Carlos the Townie


Don’t bet on it, Carlos—I can’t even figure out how to use Oregon’s tax dollars to support my bohemian lifestyle, and I’ve lived here for 20 years. If you find a state-subsidized tattoo parlor or a band-practice space that takes Section 8, let me know.

Anyway, don’t sweat it: Vegan layabouts fresh off the kale truck can’t pocket Oregon unemployment benefits unless they were laid off here. They do collect food stamps, but the feds spring for that. (Oregon’s a net loser of federal tax dollars anyway, so screw those guys.)

The local unemployment rate is another story. Portland attracted out-of-state migrants like bike messengers to an open bar throughout the recession, pushing the local jobless rate as high as 11.8 percent in 2009. It had dropped to 8.1 percent by December 2011, though, so your veiled call for an indie-rock Kristallnacht is a bit belated.

Even so, anecdotal evidence suggests that the shallow end of the labor pool still has a few suspiciously warm, yellow spots. For instance, I see lots of young folks clinging for years to service-industry jobs that, in my day, would have been considered disposable. Welcome to Portland, home of the 10-year barista!

In any case, get used to it. We’ll continue to attract the cool kids as long as we keep stacking up those youth-friendly amenities, not the least of which is a large contingent of like-minded singles. After all, if you can’t find a job anywhere, you might as well move somewhere where you can get a little action. Beaver State? You bet.

 
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