Oregon Jobless Increase Moderates as Rate Hits Record

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Oregon Employment Department,6/23/09

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 12.4 percent in May compared with 11.8 percent (as revised) in April. The 12.4 percent reading was the highest on record since the current series began in 1976, topping the previous high mark of 12.1 percent set in November 1982.  In May, 240,615 Oregonians were unemployed. In May 2008, 103,441 Oregonians were unemployed.

While the May unemployment rate is at a historically high level, the increase in Oregon’s unemployment rate moderated over the last two months. Between March and May, the rate rose from 11.9 percent to 12.4 percent. This is an increase of 0.5 percentage point over a two?month period. This moderation in the rise of the unemployment rate followed a trend of very rapid monthly increases between October 2008 (when the rate was 7.2 percent) and March 2009. During this five-month period, the rate rose by an average of nearly a full percentage point per month.

In May, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment declined by 100 jobs, following a drop of 8,100 (as revised) in April. The May employment figures were by far the smallest job loss of any month over the past 10 months.

In May, most of the major industries followed their normal seasonal patterns. This was in contrast with the prior eight months, when many industries cut employment sharply below normal seasonal expectations. In May, all of the major industries except two saw their employment change by within 600 jobs of their normal seasonal movement.

Manufacturing was one exception, where employment continued to fall below normal seasonal patterns. It cut 1,300 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. Leisure and hospitality was the other exception, as it grew by 1,600 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis.