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Oregon unemployment rate edged down in December…there’s hope…possibly

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.1% in December, edging down from 4.2% in November. This was the 20th consecutive month of declines in Oregon’s unemployment rate. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 4.2% in November to 3.9% in December. 

Nonfarm payroll employment in Oregon rose by 8,200 in December, following a revised gain of 9,200 jobs in November. Throughout 2021, monthly job gains averaged 8,900. In December, gains were largest in leisure and hospitality (+2,600 jobs), health care and social assistance (+1,200), manufacturing (+900), and professional and business services (+900). None of the major industries had a big drop in jobs during December.

Leisure and hospitality added 2,600 jobs in December, following a gain of 3,700 in November. Despite these gains, leisure and hospitality still accounts for a large share of Oregon’s jobs not recovered since early 2020, with 23,200 jobs left to recover to reach the prior peak month of February 2020. The industry has regained 79% of jobs lost early in the pandemic.

Manufacturing added 900 jobs in December and 1,000 jobs in November, continuing its steady recovery over the past year and a half. Recent job gains were strongest in nondurable goods manufacturing, including food manufacturing which employed 28,700 in December, a level close to each of the four Decembers prior to the recession.

Administrative and waste services added jobs at a fast clip, averaging 1,400 per month over the past four months. Demand is hot for temporary help supply and employee leasing firms, as the employment services industry added 9,500 jobs, good for 25% growth, over the year. These gains were countered by declines in another component industry: business support services, which has steadily declined from 16,000 jobs six years ago to 9,900 jobs in December 2021. Reductions within the category were concentrated in telephone call centers, and to a lesser extent, copy shops.

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