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Record Low Unemployment Continues in Oregon

Record Low Unemployment Continues in Oregon

Oregon’s unemployment rate declined to 3.3 percent in January, the lowest on comparable records dating back to 1976. The December unemployment rate was revised downward to 3.4 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in January.

Annual revisions to the labor force data show that Oregon’s unemployment rate steadily declined throughout last year, from 4.2 percent in January and February 2019 to the low point for the year of 3.4 percent during each of the last three months of 2019. The revisions indicate an even tighter labor market than originally estimated, with Oregon’s unemployment rate solidly in the three-percent range for the first time since comparable records began in 1976.

Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 1,800 jobs in January, following a gain of 800 jobs in December. Two major industries added more than 1,000 jobs in January: health care and social assistance (+1,600 jobs) and government (+1,200). Conversely, three industries cut jobs substantially: professional and business services (-2,900 jobs), construction (-1,400), and manufacturing (-1,200).

Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment increased by 16,900 jobs, or 0.9 percent, over the year since January 2019. This growth continued the state’s deceleration over the past several years, as annual job gains had been tracking between 1.3 percent and 2.0 percent over the prior year and half.

In the past 12 months, transportation, warehousing, and utilities grew at the fastest rate of the major industries, expanding by 2,500 jobs or 3.6 percent. Information also expanded rapidly, adding 1,200 jobs, or 3.5 percent, since January 2019. Software publishers added 700 jobs in that time, accounting for the bulk of gains in the information industry. Two major industries had January employment levels that were essentially the same as January 2019. Construction (+100 jobs, or 0.1%) is still near a record-high jobs count, but has stopped expanding at the rapid growth pace it experienced in 2013 through 2018. Similarly, professional and business services (+200 jobs, or 0.1%), which accounts for more than one out of eight nonfarm jobs, has slowed its gains over the past two years. Meanwhile, three industries shed jobs since January 2019: manufacturing (??’3,200 jobs, or -1.6%), retail trade (-800 jobs, or -0.4%), and mining and logging (-600 jobs, or -8.3%).

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