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December 2012 Statewide Unemployment Rate
Oregon's Unemployment Rate Remains at 8.4 Percent

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 8.4 percent, unchanged from November. The December 2011 unemployment rate was 9.0 percent.

Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data)
On a seasonally adjusted basis, preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate nonfarm payroll employment in Oregon rose by 2,000 jobs in December. The private sector added 2,300 jobs over the month, while the public sector declined by 300.

Revised estimates for November show a loss of 900 jobs, when a gain of 600 was initially reported. Downward revisions were largest in professional and business services.

The small job losses in September, October, and November, when coupled with the modest job gain in December, equated to a nearly flat employment trend during the last four months of the year. This lackluster trend was disappointing compared with the stronger gains seen during the first eight months of the year, when payrolls expanded by 20,000 jobs.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that trade, transportation, and utilities added the most jobs of the major industry sectors. It grew by 2,900 jobs when a gain of only 400 was the normal seasonal movement. Retail trade was strong as it added 1,900 at the end of the holiday hiring season. Retail was 5,700 jobs above its December 2011 figure, for a gain of 3.0 percent. Similarly, wholesale trade added more jobs than expected for the month, with a gain of 300. It was up 1,500, or 2.0 percent over the last 12 months.

Economists with the BLS estimate that private-sector educational and health services added
600 jobs in December, at a time of year when a loss of 300 jobs was expected due to seasonal factors. This sector got back on a track of slow growth after a nearly flat trend throughout much of the year. Each of the four component industries within health care and social assistance added between 100 and 400 jobs during December.

The BLS estimates that in December, leisure and hospitality cut only 1,300 jobs when a loss of 2,200 is the normal seasonal pattern for the month. This better-than-expected showing helped offset weaker employment readings the prior two months.
Manufacturing cut 1,100 jobs in December when no change was expected due to seasonal factors. Nondurable goods manufacturing cut 1,700 jobs, with its food manufacturing component cutting 800.

Over the longer term, manufacturing employment has hovered just below 170,000 jobs, on a seasonally adjusted basis, throughout the second half of 2012. The industry is up only modestly from its recent low point of 161,900 in October 2009.

Construction employment was flat on a seasonally adjusted basis in December. Despite recent growth in Oregon’s residential building permits, construction employment has remained relatively stable at close to 70,000 jobs during the past three years.

The BLS estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. These preliminary estimates are subject to revision.

Hours and Earnings
(Establishment Survey Data)
The average workweek for Oregon manufacturing production workers remained at 41.2 in both November and December. This was the longest workweek since October 2006 when it was 41.3 hours. The manufacturing workweek has been on a generally increasing trend for more than three years. In December 2011, this workweek averaged 41.0 hours.
In December, the average wage was $22.57 per hour for Oregon’s private-sector payroll employees, up from $22.28 in November. Wages have increased 42 cents, or 1.9 percent, from December 2011 when the average was $22.15.

(Household Survey Data)
The national unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in both November and December, while Oregon’s rate was 8.4 percent during both months.

During all months of 2012, Oregon’s unemployment rate was between 8.4 percent and 8.9 percent.

In December, 161,254 Oregonians were unemployed. This was 13,527 fewer individuals than in December 2011 when 174,781 Oregonians were unemployed.

Next Press Releases
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the December county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Wednesday, January 23rd and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for January on Tuesday, March 5th.

For many years, monthly employment estimates for Oregon and its metropolitan areas were developed by Oregon Employment Department economists.

In March 2011, responsibility for the monthly employment estimates for Oregon and its metropolitan areas shifted to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The estimates developed by BLS are more heavily dependent on the sample of businesses and less reliant on knowledge of local economic events. They are also likely to demonstrate increased month-to-month variability.

Comments or questions should be directed to Graham Slater, Administrator of the Oregon Employment Department's Workforce and Economic Research Division, at (503) 947-1212.

For the complete version of the news release, including tables and graphs, visit: www.QualityInfo.org/pressrelease.

If you need this release in the Spanish language, please contact Loretta Gallegos at 503-947-1794.

For help finding jobs and training resources, visit one of the state's WorkSource Oregon Centers or go to: www.WorkSourceOregon.org.

Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities