Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in March and 8.3 percent in February. The February rate was originally reported as 8.4 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 1,900 jobs in March. The private sector added 2,700 jobs over the month, while the public sector cut 800. Each of the past four months have seen gains, with monthly increases particularly strong in January (+5,400 jobs) and February (+6,600).
The average increase from December to March was 3,800 jobs per month.
March Labor Market Highlights
• Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in March. This is Oregon’s lowest unemployment rate since October 2008 when the rate was 7.7 percent.
• Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment grew by 1,900 in March and by 6,600 in February. It has added an average of 3,800 jobs per month over the past four months.
Two major industries have recently regained record employment levels after suffering steep losses during the 2008-2009 recession.
Professional and business services, on a seasonally adjusted basis, added 400 jobs in March to reach 199,300. This put the industry at a record level, just surpassing its previous peak of 198,900 reached in April 2008. The industry’s employment dropped sharply in the recession, losing 21,900 jobs, or 11 percent, in 16 months. Then, over the next three-and-a-half years it gained back that number of jobs and surpassed the former peak by March 2013.
Professional and business services accounts for nearly one out of eight nonfarm payroll jobs. It includes a wide array of services businesses including building maintenance, legal, engineering, computer systems design, management of companies, administrative, waste management, and temporary help services.
The other major industry that suffered steep job losses in recent years but has now fully recovered into record territory is accommodation and food services. On a seasonally adjusted basis it added 1,200 jobs in March to reach 152,700. This was several hundred jobs above its pre-recession peak of 151,500 reached in March 2008. During the recession, this industry that includes restaurants and hotels lost 11,800 jobs, or nearly 8 percent, and reached its lowest point in December 2009. Over the past three years the industry’s hiring has accelerated, and just in March reached its highest level ever.
In March, four major industries added at least 900 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. These gains were partially offset by job losses in two major industries.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that construction added 2,100 jobs when a gain of 500 was the normal seasonal movement. The strong March increase follows a similarly strong gain in February. The gains for these two months followed a gradual decline during the prior year and put construction employment 2,100 jobs above its March 2012 figure.
Manufacturing was expected to add 700 jobs in March due to normal seasonal factors, but added 1,600 instead. This better-than-expected reading put manufacturing back on track with its moderate recovery seen during the prior three years. Seasonally adjusted employment in manufacturing stood at 174,300 in March, which was well above its low point of 162,100 in late 2009.
Economists with the BLS estimate that leisure and hospitality added 3,000 jobs in March, at a time of year when a gain of 1,700 was expected due to seasonal factors. Since March 2012, leisure and hospitality has been one of the fastest growing major industries. Over the past 12 months it added 5,400 jobs, or 3.4 percent. Food services and drinking places, a major component sector, added 4,200 in that time.
Private-sector educational and health services added 1,100 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in March. In general, the educational services component industry expanded steadily for more than 10 years. This trend continued in recent months as employment has slightly exceeded normal seasonal expectations.
In contrast, private health care and social assistance has seen the pace of employment growth decelerating over the past two years, following rapid growth from 2004 through 2010. In March, the industry added 800 jobs, when a loss of 200 was expected due to normal seasonal factors. Over the past 12 months, the only component industry to cut jobs was hospitals, which shed 500 jobs in that time.
The BLS estimates that in March, government added 400 jobs when a gain of 1,200 is the normal seasonal pattern for the month. This worse-than-expected showing reversed the pattern of the prior month. Over the past 12 months, government employment is down 500 jobs, with federal government shedding 700, local government up 100, and state government adding 200.
Trade, transportation, and utilities cut 1,000 jobs in March, when a gain of 1,500 is the normal seasonal pattern. Wholesale trade partially retraced a strong gain in February. It is up 1,500 since March 2012 and is back on track with its modest growth trend of the past three years.
Retail trade cut 900 jobs in March, putting it near its slow-growth trend of the past three years. It employed 183,100 in March, which was 1,900 jobs, or 1.0 percent, above its year-ago figure.
The BLS estimated that transportation, warehousing, and utilities was flat in March. Despite a gain of 1,500 jobs, or 2.8 percent, since March 2012, the industry has recovered only about half of the jobs lost in the recession.
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 rose from 41.0 hours in February to 41.1 in March. The manufacturing workweek has been on a generally increasing trend for four years. In March 2012, this workweek averaged 40.1 hours.
In March, the average wage was $22.30 per hour for Oregon’s private-sector payroll employees, down from $22.41 in February. Wages have increased 13 cents, or 0.6 percent, from March 2012 when the average was $22.17.
(Household Survey Data)
The national unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in March and 7.7 percent in February, while Oregon’s rate was 8.2 percent in March and 8.3 percent in February.
In March, 167,706 Oregonians were unemployed. This was 19,652 fewer individuals than in March 2012 when 187,358 Oregonians were unemployed.
Next Press Releases
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the March county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, April 23rd and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for April on Tuesday, May 14th.
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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