Oregon’s unemployment rate drops below 4%…the lowest in over 40 years…two worker families skyrocket out of necessity
Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent in November, the lowest on comparable records dating back to 1976. The October unemployment rate was 4.0 percent, as revised from the originally reported figure of 4.1 percent.
In November, Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped below 4 percent for the first time since comparable records dating back to 1976. This puts the rate slightly above the November U.S. rate of 3.5 percent. Oregon’s unemployment rate has been hovering near historical lows of near 4 percent for the past 37 months.
Meanwhile, total nonfarm payroll employment shot up by 6,300 jobs in November, following an upwardly revised gain of 6,500 jobs in October. October was revised upward by 2,100 jobs.
So far in 2019, monthly employment gains have averaged 2,600 jobs, which is slightly slower than in 2018 when monthly growth averaged 3,000 jobs.
Oregon’s over-the-year job growth of 1.6 percent closely matched the U.S. job growth of 1.5 percent. Most of Oregon’s major industries have expanded by about 2 percent since November 2018. The primary exception – education and health services, which grew by 9,900 jobs, or 3.3 percent. Conversely, the only major industry that contracted substantially over the past 12 months was retail trade, which cut 1,800 jobs, or -0.9 percent.
Other observers of the labor market also point to the growing necessity for more and more wives having to work, because of long running stagnant wages stuck at 1970s and 80’s levels (in terms of buying power) requiring both husbands AND wives to fill jobs that otherwise might have gone unfilled and thereby push up wage rates. In other words, many employers are maintaining the country’s long-running low wage work culture.
Coast State Representative David Gomberg shares his observations about the state’s low unemployment:
“Here’s another aspect of our curious economy. The number of older workers has quadrupled and one-fifth of Oregonians over 65 are working or seeking work. We are living longer and staying healthy. Many people enjoy their jobs and are happy to keep working and keep earning. But at the same time, Social Security only covers 40% to 50% of what workers earned before retirement. Only 4% of private-sector workers have pensions and half of American households have no retirement savings. The sad truth is that many Oregonians can’t afford to retire.”