Oregon’s Unemployment Rate and Payroll Employment Both Flat in September


Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in September, unchanged from 9.6 percent in August. Meanwhile, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment has remained at 9.1 percent for the past three months.

Industry Payroll Employment

(Establishment Survey Data)

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment declined 600 in September, following a revised gain of 1,200 in August. Overall, this measure of employment stood at 1,622,300 in September, which was close to where it has been since March.

In September, seasonally adjusted job gains were over 1,000 in leisure and hospitality (+1,100 jobs) and other services (+1,400), while losses occurred in trade, transportation, and utilities (-1,700) and professional and business services (-1,000).

September Labor Market Highlights

Since April, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been in a range of 9.3 to 9.6 percent. During those six months, the U.S. rate has stayed between 9.0 and 9.2 percent.

At 1,622,300, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment was nearly the same in September as it was in March, reflecting a relatively flat employment trend over the past six months.

Since September 2010, government has dropped 7,900 jobs. This loss was more than offset by job gains of over 8,000 each in two major private-sector industries: educational and health services (+8,300 jobs) and leisure and hospitality (+9,300).

Leisure and hospitality cut only 2,500 jobs in September, when a loss of 3,600 is the normal seasonal movement. Amusement, gambling, and recreation cut 700 jobs, but gained 2,500 since September 2010. Accommodation cut 500 and is at the same 22,200 job total compared with one year ago. Food services and drinking places cut 1,300 jobs during September, which is typically the first month of job declines following the peak month of the year in August.

Other services added 1,600 jobs in September, when a gain of only 200 was expected due to seasonal factors. Repair and maintenance, a component of other services, added 500 jobs, and was up 500 jobs or 3.2 percent since September 2010. Another component industry, membership associations and organizations, added 900 jobs in September, but is down 300 from its year-ago figure.

Trade, transportation, and utilities cut 1,600 jobs in September, when a gain of 100 is the typical seasonal pattern. This major industry is up 2,600 jobs or 0.8 percent over the past year. Wholesale trade cut 1,200 jobs in September and is down 1,000 over the year. Retail trade was essentially flat in September, but added 3,500 jobs over the past 12 months. Following a big spike upward at the end of last year, retail trade hasn’t shown any noteworthy seasonally adjusted trend either upward or downward so far this year.

Professional and business services cut 900 jobs in September, when an essentially flat trend is normal for the time of year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, this industry has generally expanded for nearly two years, since reaching a low point in August 2009. In that 25-month period, it added 8,000 jobs, equal to growth of 4.5 percent. Despite the job gains, the industry is still 14,400 jobs below its peak reached in April 2008.

Government employment grew by 5,000, which was close to its normal gain during the back-to-school month of September. Following the substantial job cuts at K thru 12 schools in recent months, local education employed 82,300 in September, which was down 6,300 or 7.1 percent since September 2010.

Hours and Earnings

(Establishment Survey Data)

The average workweek for Oregon manufacturing production workers spiked up to 40.3 hours in September, a gain from 39.8 in August. This was the highest level since 40.7 hours in December 2007.This measure of the workweek has generally trended higher over the past two years and is up from the September 2010 figure of 39.3 hours.

Average earnings of all private-sector payroll employees in Oregon rose to $21.71 per hour in September from $21.52 in August. The September figure was up 22 cents per hour, or 1.0 percent, from September 2010.


(Household Survey Data)

The national unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in July, August, and September. Oregon’s September rate of 9.6 percent was 0.5 percentage point above the U.S. rate. The difference between the Oregon and the U.S. unemployment rates was not statistically significant.

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been below 10 percent for the past six months, since March, when the rate was 9.9 percent. The recent low point for Oregon’s rate was in May, when it reached 9.3 percent.

Prior to May, the rate generally had been declining since reaching a recent high of 11.6 percent in both May and June 2009.

In September, 178,174 Oregonians were unemployed. This is 19,738 fewer individuals than in September 2010 when 197,912 Oregonians were unemployed.


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