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Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Was Essentially Unchanged at 8.4 Percent in May
May 2012 Statewide Unemployment Rate
6/12/2012
 
CONTACT:  David Cooke, Economist
(503) 947-1272
david.c.cooke@state.or.us
 
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in May, essentially unchanged from 8.5 percent in April. Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.5 percent in May 2011. Meanwhile, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in May and 8.1 percent in April.

Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data)
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 6,900 in May. The April figure was revised upward to show a gain of 3,100 jobs.
 
In May, six of the 10 major private sector industries posted large seasonally adjusted job gains. These gains were partially offset by declines in construction (-1,800 jobs) and leisure and hospitality (-1,300).
 
Trade, transportation, and utilities added 5,100 jobs in May, when a gain of 1,700 was expected due to seasonality. This spike upward put the industry slightly above its 1.5 percent annual growth trend seen over the past two years. Despite these recent gains, this major industry, which makes up nearly one-fifth of total payroll employment, has only recovered about one-third of its losses that occurred during 2008 and 2009.
 
In May, both wholesale trade (+1,400 jobs) and retail trade (+2,900) added more jobs than normal for the month. The recent acceleration in employment growth for both industries is a sign of economic expansion.
 
Electronic markets and agents and brokers, a relatively small employer within wholesale trade, employed 13,700 in May. Over the past two years it quietly expanded and now stands near its all-time high. The firms in this industry deal with a variety of products including pharmaceuticals, computer routers and switches, automobiles, lumber, aviation equipment, food, office, and insulation.
 
Professional and business services added 1,900 jobs when a flat trend is typical for May. From October 2010 through March 2012, seasonally adjusted employment in this industry was flat, near 185,000. But in the past two months, employment has risen to 189,000.
 
A component industry, employment services, shot up in May by 1,600, which was more than its typical increase for the month. Employment services rose by 900 from May 2011. Services to buildings and dwellings added 900 jobs in May, but its employment is 300 below its May 2011 reading. This industry grew rapidly and steadily from 1990 through 2007, but at its current level of 18,600 jobs, remains well below its pre-recession peak May figure of 22,200 reached in 2007.
 
Manufacturing spiked upward by 2,000 jobs in May, which was well above its typical gain of 300 for the month. Despite the large one-month gain, the industry is still 300 below its year-ago figure. Durable goods manufacturing added 1,100 jobs in May and is up 300 over the year. Most of its component industries were each up between 200 and 900 jobs over the past 12 months. The exception was wood product manufacturing, which cut 1,100 since May 2011, as it continued to trend slowly downward over the past three years.
 
Government added only 3,400 jobs in May when a gain of 3,900 was expected due to normal seasonal factors. Federal government added 300, but this was below its typical hiring heading into the peak summer employment season for natural-resource based agencies. The weakness in federal government employment trends extended its longer-term employment cutbacks. In May, its employment stood at 27,700, which was 1,600 below its level four years ago.
 
Local government also continued to post employment patterns below seasonal norms, as it has been doing fairly consistently over the past four years. Local education has accounted for all of the over-the-year job losses within local government, as its May employment of 101,400 was 4,700 below the May 2011 figure.
 
In recent months, government declines were in contrast to modest job gains in much of the private sector. Over the past 12 months, all of the major industries within the private service-providing sectors have added jobs, ranging from 900 added in financial activities, to 7,300 added in trade, transportation, and utilities. Over that same period, private goods-producing sectors have seen small job declines: construction (-400 jobs) and manufacturing (-300).

Hours and Earnings
(Establishment Survey Data)
The average workweek for Oregon manufacturing production workers was flat at 40.1 hours in March, April and May. The flat trend in recent months puts this average workweek above levels seen over the prior three years. For example, in May 2011, the manufacturing workweek averaged 39.3 hours.
 
Average hourly earnings dropped a little in May, as is normal for the time of year. The average wage was $22.00 per hour for private-sector payroll employees. Wages are up by 2.0 percent from May 2011, when the average was $21.57.

Unemployment
(Household Survey Data)
The national unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in May, which was essentially unchanged from 8.1 percent in April. Oregon’s May rate was 8.4 percent. The difference between the Oregon and the U.S. unemployment rates was not statistically significant.
 
The latest figures indicate that Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has generally been on a declining trend for nearly three years, after reaching a high of 11.6 percent in May and June 2009. At 8.4 percent in May, it has not been this low since November 2008, when Oregon’s rate was also 8.4 percent.
 
In May, 163,726 Oregonians were unemployed. This is 17,535 fewer individuals than in May 2011 when 181,261 Oregonians were unemployed.

Next Press Releases
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the May county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Monday, June 18th and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for June on Tuesday, July 17th.
 
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.
 
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