Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Remained at a Record Low of 3.8 Percent in September
Oregon’s unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in September, the same as in August. These were Oregon’s lowest unemployment rates since comparable records began in 1976. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 3.9 percent in August to 3.7 percent in September.
Oregon’s labor market was unusually tight in September, as indicated not only by the low unemployment rate, but also by the low number of Oregonians who are considered “short-term unemployed.” In September, 80,000 Oregonians were unemployed. Of those, 16,000 had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more (“long-term unemployed”), and 64,000 had been unemployed for less than 27 weeks (“short-term unemployed”). The number of short-term unemployed was quite low historically and was well below levels seen at the end of the prior expansion in 2006 and 2007, when an average of 86,000 people were categorized as short-term unemployed.
In September, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by a modest 300 jobs, following a revised gain of 2,400 jobs in August. Monthly gains in September were concentrated in leisure and hospitality (+900 jobs) and professional and business services (+800 jobs). These gains were offset by losses in retail trade (-1,300 jobs) and wholesale trade (-800 jobs).
Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment increased by 40,200 jobs, or 2.1 percent, since September 2017. This growth rate is very close to the 2.2 percent annual growth rate the state has experienced over the prior 21 months, cooling off from the 3.0 percent average annual growth rate seen during the prior three years dating back to 2013.
More than one-quarter of Oregon’s payroll employment growth over the past 12 months was in the construction industry, which added 11,100 jobs, expanding by 11.2 percent. Over the year, no other industry has grown nearly as fast as construction. Next in line are three major industries that each grew by close to 3 percent: leisure and hospitality (+6,600 jobs, or 3.2%); other services (+2,000 jobs, or 3.1%); and professional and business services (+7,400 jobs, or 3.0%). Several industries remained close to their year-ago job totals, including information (+100 jobs, or 0.3%); government (-200 jobs, or -0.1%); retail trade (-700 jobs, or -0.3%); and wholesale trade (-300 jobs, or -0.4%).
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.
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