State economist resigns to take job in private sector



The state’s chief economist announced Wednesday that he is stepping down to take a private sector job in Ohio.

Arun Raha was appointed to the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council in 2008, a post in which he projected the states revenues and delivered quarterly reports on how close the state was to those estimates. His tenure has been marked by the worst economic downturn in the state since the Great Depression.

“I’m going back to the private sector and anonymity, hopefully,” he said at a news conference where he announced that his resignation will be effective Jan. 31. He said he was taking a job as director of corporate economics for Eaton Corporation in Cleveland.

Raha was known to inject jokes into the often dire economic reports.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, the chairman of the Economic Forecasting Council that received and discussed Raha’s quarterly reports, said he always appreciated Raha’s humor, “even though he had to deliver a lot of bad news.”

The state will conduct a search for Raha’s replacement that could take months. Steve Lerch, who served as interim economist before Raha’s appointment, will fill that post again.

The next revenue forecast is scheduled for Feb. 16.

Click here to view a television webcast of today’s announcement, broadcast by Olympia station, TVW.