David Cooke, Economist (503) 947-1272
Oregon’s Unemployment Rate at 8.5 Percent in April, as Payroll Employment Grows by 2,300
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in April, essentially unchanged from 8.6 percent in March. Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.5 percent in April 2011. Meanwhile, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in April and 8.2 percent in March.
Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data)
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2,300 in April. The March figure was revised upward to show a gain of 1,200 jobs, rather than the loss of 300 that was originally reported.
In April, two of the major industries posted large seasonally adjusted job gains: construction (+1,700 jobs) and professional and business services (+1,700). These gains were partially offset by declines in trade, transportation, and utilities (-1,200 jobs) and educational and health services (-1,000).
Construction added 3,800 jobs when a gain of only 2,100 is the normal seasonal pattern in April. These gains followed weak employment trends in February and March.
Seasonally adjusted employment in construction, at 70,100 jobs in April, was very close to its January reading of 70,300. Since April 2011, this measure of construction employment is up by 1,400 jobs, or 2.0 percent.
Professional and business services added 2,900 jobs in April at a time of year when a gain of only 1,200 is the norm. Recent employment trends in this large industry were nearly flat for over a year. This uptick in April put the industry about even with its year-ago figure. Since April 2011, professional and technical services, which includes legal, architectural, engineering, and computer systems design services, was up 2,200 jobs. Countering these gains was administrative and waste services, which has cut 2,300 jobs over the past 12 months.
Trade transportation and utilities added only 500 jobs in April, when a gain of 1,700 was expected. Retail trade performed exactly as expected for the month by adding 1,600 jobs. Retail gains were seen in building material and garden supply stores, which added 400 jobs, and in food and beverage stores, which also added 400. Retail has been expanding gradually over the past two years, but is still well off its all time high reached in late 2007.
Private-sector educational and health services declined on a seasonally adjusted basis for the third consecutive month. Private education declined in recent months following an unusually large spike upward at the end of 2011. Despite the recent pullback, the April seasonally adjusted figure of 34,200 puts education slightly above its rapid growth trend line experienced over most of the past 10 years.
Meanwhile, health care and social assistance has seen its employment peak and then flatten out over the past six months. In April, seasonally adjusted employment for this sector was 202,400, which is very close to its July 2011 level of 202,000. Social assistance is contributing to the flattening trend lately as it is down 400 over the past 12 months. Also, there have been news reports of at least one major hospital cutting employment since last summer.
Hours and Earnings
(Establishment Survey Data)
The average workweek for Oregon manufacturing production workers ticked up to 40.2 hours in April from 40.1 in March. In April 2011, the average workweek was slightly lower, at 39.6 hours per week. Over the longer term, this average workweek has been generally rising over the past three years.
Average earnings of all private-sector payroll employees in Oregon shot up to $766.26 per week in April. This was an increase of 4.5 percent from the April 2011 figure of $733.12 and was by far the highest average weekly earnings for this series dating back to its outset in 2007.
(Household Survey Data)
The national unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in April. Oregon’s rate was 8.5 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 point of 11.6 percent in May and June 2009. At 8.5 percent in April, it has not been lower since November 2008, when Oregon’s rate was 8.4 percent.
In April, 168,679 Oregonians were unemployed. This is 17,876 fewer individuals than in April 2011 when 186,555 Oregonians were unemployed.
Next Press Releases
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the April county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Monday, May 21st and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for May on Tuesday, June 12th.
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.
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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