Is a Pandemic the Signal It’s Time for an Oregon Sales Tax? We Asked the State’s Leading Economist.

Tim Duy doesn’t see any scenario in which the effects of COVID-19 aren’t worse than the Great Recession.

Portland's Laurelhurst neighborhood. (Wesley Lapointe)

WW presents “Distant Voices,” a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they’re doing during quarantine.

As an economist, Tim Duy is watching COVID-19 hit Oregon the way an astronomer might watch an asteroid slam into Earth. He's horrified, but still: This is what he studies, and he never thought he'd see it.

"It isn't what I was hoping for in any way, shape or form," he says, "but it will birth a million dissertations, because it's such a unique event."

Duy is arguably the leading expert on the Oregon economy. When he's not teaching University of Oregon students, he's advising the governor. Of course, there's not much of an economy left, thanks to the pandemic: Duy doesn't see any scenario in which the effects of COVID-19 aren't worse than the Great Recession.

So don't watch this interview expecting many silver linings. But Duy has an expert's eye for the details of disaster and told us which industries will suffer the most and which might be the first to rebound. Plus, we floated him the idea that many candidates are offering this election cycle: Is now the time for an Oregon sales tax?

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