Oregon Adds 4,800 Jobs in May; Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 4.1 Percent
Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in May. For 17 consecutive months, the rate has been at or near 4.1 percent, its lowest level since comparable records began in 1976. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent in May, from 3.9 percent in April.
In May, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4,800 jobs, following a revised loss of 700 jobs in April. Four major industries added at least 900 jobs in May: construction (+1,600 jobs); health care and social assistance (+1,500); professional and business services (+1,000); and leisure and hospitality (+900). Only two major industries dropped in May: wholesale trade (-800 jobs) and retail trade (-600).
Over the past 12 months, Oregon’s nonfarm employment rose by 34,600 jobs, or 1.9 percent. This growth was slightly faster than the national growth rate of 1.6 percent during the same period. In Oregon, over-the-year job gains were strongest in construction (+9,600 jobs, or 9.9%); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+2,700 jobs, or 4.3%); and leisure and hospitality (+6,200 jobs, or 3.0%). Since May 2017, only two major industries cut jobs: government ( 800 jobs, or -0.3%) and information (-300 jobs, or -0.9%).
Construction added 1,600 jobs in May, reaching an all-time high of 106,400 jobs. This was the first time construction rose above its previous record high reached more than 10 years ago in August 2007 when there were 105,400 jobs in construction. Since 2007, residential building construction has had the fastest growth rate of the industries within construction; at 18,700 jobs in May, it was 19 percent above its 2007 annual average. Building equipment contractors grew 12 percent over the past 11 years and nonresidential building construction grew 8 percent. Most other industries within the construction sector are still slightly below their record highs of 2007. However, heavy and civil engineering construction—at 10,100 jobs in May—remained 18 percent below its 2007 average.
All numbers in the above narrative are seasonally adjusted except for the construction component industries.
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 October, November and December 2017 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.