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.
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%).
As has been widely noted by critics, unemployment figures don’t reflect the ACTUAL unemployment rate. Especially the “under” employment rate among those who work part time but can’t find full time work. Another category – those who couldn’t find work, went home and gave up. Another category, someone one who is forced to take occasional odd-jobs – they’re not counted as unemployed either. So when you see the low unemployment figures, there’s a great deal of debate as to their accuracy.