Oregon Unemployment Rate Was 8.9 percent in August. Payroll Employment Increased for the Sixth Consecutive Month


Construction employment rose by 2,000 in August, 600 above the gain expected due to seasonality.

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.9 percent in August and 8.7 percent in July. Meanwhile, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in August and 8.3 percent in July.

Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data)

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 8,800 in August. The July figure was revised to show a gain of 1,200 jobs.

In August, seven of the 10 major private-sector industries posted seasonally adjusted job gains of at least 600, while none showed a loss. However, government cut 400.

Construction employment rose by 2,000 in August, 600 above the gain expected due to seasonality.

So far this year construction has followed its typical seasonal pattern fairly closely, not showing a consistent growth trend as seasonally adjusted employment has been hovering near 70,000. This follows slow seasonally adjusted job gains throughout most of 2011. The gains in late 2011 have resulted in an increase of 1,600 jobs or 2.3 percent between August 2011 and August 2012.

Financial activities added 900 jobs in August when a loss of 300 is the normal seasonal pattern. Employment here has rebounded sharply throughout the year. In January, financial activities dropped to 90,900 jobs, which was its lowest point since early 1997. Turning the corner since then, the industry has gained 4,300 jobs to reach 95,200 in August. Record low home mortgage interest rates have spurred refinancing activity, and consequently, employment at mortgage brokers. Home prices have stabilized in some areas, while statewide residential construction permits have increased this year through July. These factors and others have buoyed the real estate industry, which has added 2,100 jobs since August 2011. Additionally, increased demand for rental housing nationwide is likely to be reflected within Oregon. Any such gains would be felt in rental and leasing activity employment, which is also included in the financial activities sector.

Private-sector educational and health services added 400 jobs during August, when a loss of 200 is the norm. Educational services reached what is likely to be its low point for the year at 28,300 in August. The fall school term will boost employment in September. In August, these private-sector jobs, primarily in colleges and universities, were essentially equal to their total for August 2011.

Meanwhile, the private health care and social assistance industry added 900 jobs in August and was 1,400 above its year-ago figure. For the prior months of 2012, the job counts for this industry have been uncharacteristically flat, in contrast to the rapid and steady job gains during the prior eight years. Hospitals have shown an overall pattern of job declines during the past 12 months, and were down 600 from August 2011.

Government continued its slow overall job decline seen throughout much of the past four years. Government cut 800 jobs in August, which was double the expected seasonal decline of 400 for the month of August. During the past 12 months, each of the three government sectors has cut jobs: federal government (-1,300 jobs), state government ( 300) and local government (-800).

Hours and Earnings
The average workweek for Oregon manufacturing production workers rose from 40.0 in July to 40.2 in August. The manufacturing workweek has been on a generally increasing trend over the past three years. In August 2011, this workweek averaged 39.8 hours.

The summer months of July and August typically see the lowest average hourly earnings figures of the year, as more seasonal, lower-paid workers are employed. In August, the average wage was $21.85 per hour for Oregon’s private-sector payroll employees. Wages have increased 33 cents, or 1.5 percent, from August 2011 when the average was $21.52. In July 2012, the figure was $22.08.

The national unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in August and 8.3 percent in July, while Oregon’s rate was 8.9 percent in August and 8.7 percent in July. The difference between the Oregon and the U.S. August unemployment rates was not statistically significant.

The latest figures indicate that Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has ticked upward from a recent low of 8.4 percent in May. Prior to that, the rate had generally declined for three years, after reaching a high of 11.6 percent in May and June 2009. During the first eight months of this year, Oregon’s unemployment rate has been between 8.4 percent and 8.9 percent.

In August, 172,952 Oregonians were unemployed. This was 14,868 fewer individuals than in August 2011 when 187,820 Oregonians were unemployed.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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