Oregon unemployment ties 30 year high

Oregon statewide unemployment for May 2010
By David Cooke, Economist
Oregon Employment Department

Oregon’s Employment Situation: May 2010
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.6 percent in May, the same as in March and April. The rate has been essentially unchanged for the most recent seven months. Oregon’s unemployment rate was 11.6 percent in May 2009, which tied June 2009 as Oregon’s highest unemployment rate since the early 1980s.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 9.7 percent in May from 9.9 percent in April.

In May, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment was flat, following a gain of 5,500 (as revised) in April.

Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data)
In May, government employment was boosted by temporary hiring of Census workers. In the private sector, several major industries posted job declines, while only two major industries produced substantial seasonally adjusted job gains.

Government added 6,800 jobs in May at a time of year when a gain of 3,700 is expected due to seasonality. The addition of 4,451 intermittent Census workers boosted both federal government and total government for May, adding to the 1,952 already working for the Census in April.

Over the past two years, local government has been relatively stable. Between May 2009 and May 2010, employment was down by 900 jobs or 0.4 percent. Over the past two years, state government has generally expanded; since last May it is up 1,300 jobs or 1.6 percent. Due to unusual situations including federal stimulus funding and increases in workload as a result of the economic downturn of 2008 and early 2009, several state agencies such as transportation infrastructure and human resources agencies have increased their staffing levels.

Trade, transportation, and utilities normally gains 1,700 jobs due to seasonal factors in May, so this May’s flat employment trend was 1,700 below normal seasonal expectations. Retail trade contributed most of the dismal performance as it added only 300 jobs during the normally rapidly growing spring month of May. Retail had been showing a small upturn in its seasonally adjusted employment during January and February. But with the weak figures in May it has now showed little growth for the year.

Wholesale trade continued to rebound, having added 1,800 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis since its low in November 2009.

Transportation, warehousing, and utilities showed no substantial signs of growth. It is down 1,400 jobs or 2.6 percent since May 2009.

Financial activities gave back its April gains, dropping 800 jobs in May. The industry fell below 93,000 for only the second month in more than 12 years. Outside of construction, financial activities is Oregon’s major industry showing the largest continued jobs losses so far this year. Its component industry called “real estate and rental and leasing” dropped 700 jobs in May and is now 1,500 below its year-ago level.

Professional and business services added only 100 jobs in May when a gain of 800 is the normal seasonal movement. The industry is now close to its December employment level after showing modest gains during the first part of the year. Most of its component industries were flat in May. The exception was services to buildings and dwellings, which gained 600 jobs.

Educational and health services dropped by 1,900 jobs in May, when it normally would drop by only 1,300 for the month. Despite the one-month decline there have been solid long-term gains. Over the past 12 months, health care and social assistance has added 1,300 jobs, with strong gains coming from nursing and residential care facilities (+900 jobs) and social assistance (+1,300 jobs).

Construction posted its third consecutive seasonally adjusted job gain. It added 1,700 jobs at a time of year when a gain of 1,200 is the normal seasonal movement. Construction employment stood at 64,200 jobs in May, still well below its May 2009 tally of 73,100. In May, all of the specialty trade contractor industries added workers, led by building finishing contractors with a gain of 500.

Manufacturing continued to slowly recover from its recent bottom. Seasonally adjusted employment rose 700 in May and is now up 1,400 from its February trough. Over the last several months, durable goods employment continued to hover above 110,000, while nondurable goods steadied slightly below 50,000.

Wood product manufacturing hit 20,000 for the first time this year, after reaching a low point of 19,400 in February. Rising lumber prices supported revenues for mills. However, many other durable goods component industries continued to shed jobs this year, including machinery, computer and electronic products, and transportation equipment.

On the nondurable goods side of manufacturing, food manufacturing posted its highest May employment total in over 20 years, as employment grew by 400 jobs over the month to reach 23,500.

Unemployment (Household Survey Data)
In May, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.6 percent, the same as in April and March. Since reaching a high point of 11.6 percent in May and June 2009, Oregon’s rate had declined steadily in the second half of 2009. Throughout 2010, Oregon’s rate has been equal to, or very near its current reading of 10.6 percent.

In May, 202,944 Oregonians were unemployed. In May 2009, 223,474 Oregonians were unemployed.

In seasonally adjusted terms, both Oregon’s civilian labor force and its number of citizens employed increased modestly in May. This marked the fifth consecutive month of increases in both these figures.

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the May county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, June 22nd and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for June on July 13th.

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