Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.7% in September from 5.0%, as revised, in August. In September, 102,000 Oregonians were unemployed. This is a remarkable improvement from the worst labor force impacts of the COVID recession when 270,000 Oregonians were jobless in April 2020. However, there is still ground to make up to approach the average of 82,000 Oregonians unemployed during 2017 through 2019, during the tight labor market of the prior economic expansion. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.8% in September from 5.2% in August.
In Oregon, nonfarm payroll employment declined by 200 in September, following a revised gain of 8,900 jobs in August. Monthly gains averaged 10,200 during January through August. Job reductions in September were largest in government (-3,800 jobs) and construction (-1,400). These losses were balanced by substantial gains in professional and business services (+2,500 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+2,200); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+1,000 jobs).
The private sector added 3,600 jobs in September, continuing the steady private-sector expansion that averaged 4,600 jobs added per month over the past six months.
Government job losses in September were concentrated in local government where some K-12 schools added fewer employees than is typical at the start of the school year. Other local government employers are still well below their staffing levels seen two years ago, prior to the recession.
Leisure and hospitality added 2,200 jobs in September, following a gain of 1,200 in August. Despite these gains, leisure and hospitality still accounts for the bulk of Oregon’s jobs not recovered since early 2020, with 42,100 jobs left to recover to reach the prior peak month of February 2020. The industry has regained 62% of jobs lost early in the pandemic.
Professional and technical services has grown at a rapid rate throughout 2021, and is now well above its pre-recession peak. This industry added 11,800 jobs since the low point in April 2020. Most of the jobs in the broader industry are found in firms providing services in the areas of legal, architectural, engineering, computer systems design, management consulting, research, and veterinary.