In July, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by 5,900 jobs, following a gain of 8,700 in June. Four of the major industries added more than 1,000 jobs. Leisure and hospitality added the most, increasing by 2,400 jobs. In addition, strong hiring occurred in construction (+1,200 jobs), health care and social assistance (+1,200), and retail trade (+1,200). Professional and business services was the only major industry to cut more than 1,000, as it shed 1,400 jobs.
Job growth was faster than it was at the beginning of the year. Over the past 12 months, Oregon’s payroll employment rose 56,200, or 3.1 percent, as was reflected in the quarterly revisions to the data. Earlier in the year, annual job growth had slowed to 2.0 percent, but by July was back above 3.0 percent for the first time since April 2016 when the growth rate was 3.2 percent. Several large industry sectors led the expansion in the 12 months ending with July 2017, including construction (+10,300 jobs, or 11.4%), leisure and hospitality (+9,900 jobs, or 5.0%), and health care and social assistance (+8,600 jobs, or 3.7%).
Oregon’s unemployment rate was little changed at 3.8 percent in July. The rate remained near its all time low of 3.6 percent reached in May. Oregon’s rate was significantly below its year-ago rate of 5.1 percent in July 2016. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in July 2017.
Another sign of a tight labor market in Oregon is fewer workers employed part time for economic reasons. In July, 68,000 Oregonians would have preferred full-time employment but were working part time because their hours had been cut or because they could not find a full-time job. This was the lowest total on record dating back to 2002, when comparable records began. In contrast, these involuntary part-time workers reached a peak of 160,000 in 2009, during the Great Recession.