Oregon continues modest, uneven job growth

By Nick Beleiciks
Oregon Employment Department

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.5 percent in October, essentially unchanged from 9.6 percent in September. The unemployment rate has been below 10 percent for the past seven months, since March, when the rate was 9.9 percent. The recent low point for Oregon’s rate was in May, when it reached 9.3 percent.  In October, 177,350 Oregonians were unemployed. This is 20,761 fewer individuals than in October 2010, when 198,111 Oregonians were unemployed.

At 1,626,400, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment has risen for three consecutive months following a loss of 3,300 in July, reflecting the recent trend of modest yet uneven job growth.
Employment rose by 800 in October, following a revised gain of 2,700 in September. October job gains were led by professional and business services (+2,300 jobs), government (+1,400), and trade, transportation and utilities (+1,300). These gains were offset by losses in manufacturing ( 2,300 jobs), leisure and hospitality (-1,300), and construction (-900).

Professional and business services added 700 jobs at a time of year when a loss of 1,600 is the typical pattern. This major industry has added jobs for much of the past two years. It is up 4,800 jobs, or 2.6 percent, over the past 12 months.

Government turned in a monthly job change that was above its normal seasonal pattern, adding 19,300 at a time of year when a gain of only 17,900 was expected. Local government education accounted for most of that gain by adding 15,700 jobs in October. Employment for these K-12 schools and community colleges dropped sharply in the summer, but rebounded somewhat in September and October. The October total for local education was 100,100, which was down 3,100, or 3.0 percent, compared with its year-ago figure.

Trade, transportation, and utilities expanded gradually over the past two years. The broad industry sector continued that trend in October with a gain of 1,200 jobs. Over the past year, the sector added 2,800 jobs, or 0.9 percent. Retail trade got the holiday hiring season off to a strong start with a gain of 2,400 in October. Retail is up 3,200 since October 2010.

Manufacturing cut 3,300 jobs in October, during a month where the typical job loss due to seasonality is only 1,000. Most of the cuts came in nondurable goods, which shed 1,800, with its component industry food manufacturing also cutting 1,800 jobs in October.

Leisure and hospitality pulled back more than usual in October, shedding 7,500 jobs when a loss of only 6,200 is the norm. The industry had expanded earlier in the year.

Construction cut 1,300 jobs in October, which was considerably more than the typical loss of 400 for the month. Despite the loss, the industry has hovered around a seasonally adjusted employment level of close to 70,000 since February. This is only a few thousand jobs above construction’s recent low point reached approximately one year ago.

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