Jobless: Oregon in 9-month stall while WA drops

Business Report News Note: The good news is that Washington added 3,100 jobs helping the unemployment rate to drop for the fourth consecutive month (see report here).  The bad news is that Oregon unemployment rate has been unchanged for nearly nine months.

Oregon’s Employment Situation: July 2010
By Oregon Employment Department,

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.6 percent in July, essentially unchanged from 10.5 percent in June. The rate has been between 10.5 and 10.7 percent for the most recent nine months. Oregon’s unemployment rate was 11.4 percent in July 2009.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.5 percent in both June and July. In July, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 3,000, following a gain of 1,800 (as revised) in June.

Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data)

In July, three of the major industries had large seasonally adjusted job declines: government (-5,200 jobs), educational and health services (-2,600), and financial activities (-900). These losses were partially offset by notable gains in several industries: construction (+3,500 jobs), professional and business services (+700), and manufacturing (+500).

There was a substantial upward revision to the June payroll employment numbers. The originally reported seasonally adjusted totals showed a drop of 3,600 between May and June.  Revised numbers show a gain of 1,800 jobs. The upward revisions were concentrated in government and professional and business services.

Government shed 32,900 jobs in July at a time of year when a loss of 27,700 is expected due to seasonality. The ending of work for 1,839 intermittent Census workers reduced both federal government and total government for July, subtracting from the 3,792 individuals who were working for the Census in June.

Local government dropped by 25,500 jobs in July as local schools employed fewer workers during summer school break. Local education employment was 83,000 in July, which was 4,100 below its year-ago level.

Educational and health services cut 5,200 jobs in July, when a loss of only 2,600 is the normal seasonal pattern. This sector has experienced an unusual period of job losses since the start of the year, compared with relatively steady growth over the prior 20 years. In the first seven months of the year, educational and health services has shed 3,500 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. In July, the component industry showing the biggest job loss for the month was social assistance, which plunged by 2,600 jobs to a total of 27,600. Much of the drop here was due to summer breaks in child day care services.

Financial activities was flat at a time of year when a gain of 900 jobs is expected due to seasonal factors. This major industry continues to gradually decline over the past 12 months, with all of its published components below their July 2009 levels.

Construction showed a strong gain in July, adding 5,200 jobs, when a gain of only 1,700 is the normal seasonal movement during this summer month. Gains were widespread with all published components adding jobs over the month.

Seasonally adjusted construction employment, at 69,100 in July, is now well above its low point of 64,000 in February and has added jobs in each of the past five months. Despite the recent growth in construction activity, the industry is still below its year-ago figure of 73,400 jobs. Professional and business services added 1,900 jobs, when a gain of 1,200 is the normal seasonal pattern. Services to buildings and dwellings added 500 over the month; it took a beating during the economic downturn, but seems to be clawing back with over-the-year job losses narrowing to 700 in July.

Employment services was revised sharply higher for its June reading. The latest estimates peg June jobs at 28,600 and July at 29,700, putting July 400 above the year-ago level. The recent, tentative rebound in employment services is watched closely as a leading indicator of future overall employment patterns.

In July, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged at 10.6 percent compared with 10.5 percent in June. Oregon’s civilian labor force was close to 1,984,000 in both July 2009 and July 2010. During that 12-month period, the number of unemployed has dropped by 11,361, while the number of employed grew by 10,789, thus keeping the number of individuals in the labor force nearly unchanged.

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the July county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, August 24th and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for August on September 14th.

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