Oregon’s unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in August, which was Oregon’s lowest unemployment rate since comparable records began in 1976. Oregon’s July unemployment rate was 3.9 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in both July and August.
The number of Oregonians unemployed shrank in recent months. In August, the number of unemployed people dropped to 80,500, which is down from 88,000 in August 2017. The low number of unemployed reflects a very tight job market. Many people just entering the labor force are getting snapped up by employers. In August, there were only about 20,000 new entrants to the labor force who were unemployed; this was only one-third the number of such “unemployed entrants” seen in the early 2010s. This means that there are far fewer Oregonians just entering the workforce who can’t find a job. Meanwhile in August, of the unemployed Oregonians, 28,000 had lost their job—a historically low level, given that in 2009 there were five times the number of unemployed due to job loss.
In August, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by a modest 900 jobs, following a revised gain of 3,400 jobs in July. Monthly gains in August were concentrated in construction, which added 800 jobs, and trade, which added 800 jobs in wholesale trade and 700 jobs in retail trade. These gains were offset by losses in leisure and hospitality (-1,100 jobs) and government (-600 jobs).
Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment increased by 42,000 jobs, or 2.2 percent, since August 2017. More than one-quarter of payroll employment growth was in the construction industry, which added 11,400 jobs, expanding by 11.6 percent. Over the year, no other industry has grown nearly as fast as construction. Next in line are four major industries that each grew slightly slower than 3 percent: manufacturing (+5,500 jobs, or 2.9%); professional and business services (+6,900 jobs, or 2.8%); leisure and hospitality (+5,700 jobs, or 2.8%); and health care and social assistance (+6,400 jobs, or 2.7%). Rapid growth across the industries isn’t universal, as several industries remained close to their year-ago job totals, including wholesale trade (700 jobs, or 0.9%); retail trade (+1,200 jobs, or 0.6%); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+300 jobs, or 0.5%); government (no change in jobs, or 0.0%); and information (-200 jobs, or -0.6%).
All numbers in the above narrative are seasonally adjusted.
The Oregon Employment Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) work cooperatively to develop and publish monthly Oregon payroll employment and labor force data. The estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. The estimates of unemployment are based on a survey of households and other sources.
The Oregon Employment Department publishes payroll employment estimates that are revised quarterly by using employment counts from employer unemployment insurance tax records. All department publications use this Official Oregon Series data unless noted otherwise. This month’s release incorporates the January, February, and March 2018 tax records data. The department continues to make the original nonfarm payroll employment series available; these data are produced by the BLS.
*Effective with the January 2018 data, employment of Oregon’s approximately 17,000 home care workers are counted in private health care and social assistance instead of state government. The change was due to legislative action clarifying that for purposes of workforce and labor market information, home care workers are not employees of state government. The reclassification affects private sector and government monthly change figures for January 2018 and will affect over-the-year change figures through December 2018. It does not affect total payroll employment levels.
The PDF version of the news release, including tables and graphs, can be found at www.QualityInfo.org/press-release.