Where Oregon payroll is dropping most

From Chris Greaves
Oregon Employment Department,

Oregon’s Payroll Employment

Information: -5.4%
Other services: -3.5%
Professional business services: -1.6%
Leisure  hospitality: -1.5%
Manufacturing: -0.9%
Retail trade: -0.9%
Educational & Health services: -1.2%

Oregon Unemployment Rate Peak Shaved to 11.6 Percent in 2009
Revised data for 2009 and prior show that Oregon’s unemployment rate reached a recent high of 11.6 percent in May and June 2009, lower than the originally published high of 12.2 percent in May 2009. Due to the sample size of the household survey that is one of the primary inputs to Oregon’s unemployment rate calculation, the difference between these two levels is not statistically significant, but the change does mean that the highest unemployment rate of this current recession (to date) is now lower than the highest rate of the recession of the early 1980s (12.1 percent).

Overall trends in Oregon’s unemployment rate were not changed by these revisions. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was very low, between 5.0 percent and 5.4 percent, during the 27-month period February 2006 through April 2008. Then the rate rose quickly to the 6 percent range by the summer of 2008. After that the rate rocketed upward to the 11-percent range within the next seven months. This rapid rise in Oregon’s unemployment rate was unprecedented over a period stretching back more than 30 years.

Payroll Employment Drops Even Further
Revised payroll employment estimates for 2009 show that Oregon’s job losses were even more substantial than those originally published. For example, initial estimates suggested Oregon lost more than 120,000 jobs from the February 2008 pre-recession employment peak to the December 2009 level; that figure is now reported at 148,600.

On an annual average basis, Oregon’s payroll employment fell by 12,900 jobs or 0.7 percent in 2008 and declined by 106,400 jobs or 6.2 percent in 2009.  Of Oregon’s major industry categories, construction experienced the largest revision to its numbers. The annual average figure for 2009 was originally reported as 79,000, while the new figure is 73,800. This is a downward revision of 5,200 jobs or -6.6 percent. By comparison, Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment for the 2009 annual average was revised downward by 1.3 percent. Of the remaining major industries, all but two were revised downward. Many of the large industries saw their 2009 annual average revised downward by close to 2,000 jobs. These industries, and their corresponding percent revision for the 2009 annual average, were as follows: manufacturing (-0.9%), retail trade (-0.9%), information (-5.4%), professional and business services (-1.6%), educational and health services (-1.2%), leisure and hospitality (-1.5%), and other services (-3.5%).

Benchmarking Process
The newly revised payroll employment numbers are the result of the annual benchmarking process. This revision process is conducted by the Oregon Employment Department staff in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the monthly data through September 2009, original survey-based estimates were replaced with universe employment counts from the Unemployment Insurance tax system. Numbers from September through December 2009 were then re-estimated using sample employment data from a survey of businesses.

The magnitude of the revision for this benchmark was very large by historical standards. The revision to the 2009 annual average for total payroll employment was -20,900 or  1.3 percent. During the prior 17 years, comparable revisions ranged from -0.9 percent in the 1999 revision to +1.2 percent in the 1993 revision, with nearly half of the last 17 years coming in within plus or minus 0.2 percent.

Oregon’s Employment Situation: January 2010
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 10.7 percent in January from the revised December figure of 10.6 percent. The rate has been close to 10.7 percent between October 2009 and January 2010. Oregon’s unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in January 2009.

Between August 2009 and January 2010 the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been between 9.7 percent and 10.1 percent.

Revised figures for the last three months of 2009 show each month posted a drop of between 1,000 and 1,800 jobs. January’s employment change was also close to a flat trend, but on the positive side, with a gain of 1,100. This was the first seasonally adjusted monthly job gain since February 2008, when 900 jobs were added.

Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data)
In January, most of the major industries performed in line with their typical seasonal patterns. Two major industries posted substantial seasonally adjusted job gains: trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,300) and professional and business services (+1,400). Construction (-1,600 jobs) was the only major industry to post a substantial seasonally adjusted job loss.

Trade, transportation, and utilities cut only 10,900 jobs in January, when a loss of 12,200 was predicted due purely to seasonal factors. January normally sees large job reductions following the buildup of workers for the holiday season. This year was no exception as retail trade shed 9,000 workers and couriers and messengers cut back by 1,200. Within retail, post-holiday reductions were largest at clothing stores (-1,500 jobs), general merchandise stores (-2,500), and nonstore retailers (-2,500).

Professional and business services employment has shown no clear upward or downward trend over the past several months. In January, employment dropped only 3,500, when a loss of 4,900 is the normal seasonal pattern. Employment services cut 1,300 jobs, while business support services shed 1,000.

Construction continued to trend downward rapidly, with a loss of 4,400 jobs during a month when the expected drop due to seasonal factors was 2,800. All published components of construction were negative in January, with specialty trade contractors cutting back the most with a decline of 2,800 jobs.

Unemployment (Household Survey Data)

In January, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.7 percent.
In January, 227,579 Oregonians were unemployed. In January 2009, 210,754 Oregonians were unemployed.

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