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Oregon job trend slows

April 30, 2011

Oregon Employment Trend Takes a Breather After Five Strong Months
By Oregon Employment Department

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.0 percent in March, essentially unchanged from 10.2 percent in February. March marked Oregon’s lowest unemployment rate in 26 months. Oregon’s rate has not been lower since January 2009, when the rate was 9.9 percent. In March, 208,420 Oregonians were unemployed.

In March, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 2,500, following a gain of 9,700 in February. The drop in March follows five consecutive months of rapid job gains from October through February.

Construction dropped by 500 jobs in March, when a gain of 700 is the normal seasonal movement. Heavy and civil engineering construction dropped 300 jobs and is now down 500 from March 2010.

Leisure and hospitality added only 1,200 jobs in March, when a gain of 2,100 is the normal seasonal pattern. This modest growth followed robust job trends in January and February. Since March 2010, leisure and hospitality added 4,100 jobs, an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent. Thus, the sector is expanding faster than overall employment and at a pace similar to manufacturing and educational and health services.

Trade, transportation, and utilities was nearly flat in March, with a loss of 100 jobs, during a month that typically sees a gain of 1,000 due to seasonal factors. This sector should be at the bottom of its annual employment pattern in March, with likely strong seasonal gains, especially in retail, throughout the rest of the year.

Professional and business services added 2,000 jobs, when a gain of 1,200 is the normal seasonal expectation. This sector has grown rapidly for the past year and a half. The employment services industry, which is closely watched as an economic indicator, gained 700 jobs in March and is up 2,800 since March 2010. Meanwhile, professional and technical services added 1,000 jobs in March and grew by 3,700 over the past 12 months. This industry includes several types of businesses including legal, architectural, engineering, and computer systems design.

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