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Oregon Statewide Unemployment Rate - December 2011
Oregon's Unemployment Rate Drops to its Lowest in Three Years
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in November, a 0.4-point drop from 9.5 percent in October. Meanwhile, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also dropped by 0.4 point in November, to reach 8.6 percent.
Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data)
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment declined by 1,600 in November, following a revised loss of 600 in October. November job gains were led by educational and health services (+2,300 jobs), trade, transportation and utilities (+1,900) and construction (+900). Gains were offset by losses in leisure and hospitality (-3,000), manufacturing ( 2,300), financial activities (-1,100) and government ( 900).
Educational and health services grew rapidly, adding 2,600 jobs during a month where net hiring is typically up by 300. Since November 2010, this private sector industry group has added the most jobs of any of the large sectors, posting a gain of 10,400 in that time. Each of its five component industries has added between 1,400 and 2,600 over that 12-month period.
Trade, transportation and utilities added 6,900 jobs at a time of year when a gain of 5,000 is expected due to seasonal factors. Retail was particularly strong, adding 6,400 in November. General merchandise stores added 2,800, while clothing and clothing accessories stores added 1,300. Holiday hiring has been robust through November, similar to the national payroll employment numbers, which have shown holiday hiring similar to 2004 though 2007 and well above levels seen in 2008 through 2010.

Construction continued to tread water near 70,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis, with 70,300 such jobs in November, compared with 69,400 in October, and also 70,300 in September. Similar to total nonfarm employment, construction has been in a tight range since February, when it employed 70,200 on a seasonally adjusted basis. 

Leisure and hospitality dropped back from its summer peak demand times and employed 164,000 in November. The industry has added jobs compared with its year-ago figure when it employed 158,300. Gains since November 2010 were concentrated in food services and drinking places, which is up 4,700 jobs or 3.9 percent in that time.
Manufacturing cut 2,600 jobs in November, when a loss of only 300 would be the normal seasonal movement. Durable goods manufacturing has gradually diminished its workforce over the past few months, following a robust start to the year. Since November 2010, over-the-year losses in wood product manufacturing (-1,300 jobs) have been more than offset by gains in machinery manufacturing (+800) and computer and electronic product manufacturing (+1,400).
Financial activities cut 1,200 jobs, when a loss of only 100 is the normal seasonal movement for November. This industry remains near its post-recession lows of close to 93,200 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Since November 2010, gains in real estate and rental and leasing (+700 jobs) were offset by losses in insurance carriers and related activities (-1,000).
Government added 2,000 jobs in November, which was slightly below its normal seasonal pattern of 2,900 jobs added for the month. Schools, at both the local and state levels, normally are near their high point for the year in November. This year, state government education employed 34,000, which was up 1,800 since November 2010. However, local government education reflected the extent of recent budget cuts, employing only 101,200 in November, which was down 5,000 from its year-ago figure.

Hours and Earnings
(Establishment Survey Data)
The average workweek for Oregon manufacturing production workers spiked up to 41.0 hours in November, a gain from 38.9 in July, four months prior. This was the highest level since 41.3 hours in October 2006. This measure of the workweek has generally trended higher over the past two years and is up from the November 2010 figure of 39.0 hours.
Average earnings of all private-sector payroll employees in Oregon dipped slightly to $21.88 per hour in November from $21.91 in October. The November figure was up 33 cents per hour, or 1.5 percent, from November 2010.

(Household Survey Data)
The national unemployment rate dropped from 9.0 percent in October to 8.6 percent in November. Oregon’s November rate of 9.1 percent was 0.5 percentage point above the U.S. rate. 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 been on a generally declining trend for the past two and a half years. Since reaching a high point of 11.6 percent in May and June 2009, Oregon’s rate has slowly diminished. At 9.1 percent in November, it is at its lowest rate since November 2008, when Oregon’s rate was 8.4 percent.
In November, 167,563 Oregonians were unemployed. This is 41,806 fewer individuals than in November 2010 when 209,369 Oregonians were unemployed.

Next Press Releases
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the November county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Monday, December 19th and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for December on Wednesday, January 18th.
For many years, monthly employment estimates for Oregon and its metropolitan areas were developed by Oregon Employment Department economists. These economists were also responsible for revising the initial sample-based estimates annually, based on more complete information from Oregon businesses. This revisions process is known as benchmarking.
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.
BLS staff is also taking over responsibility for the annual benchmarking process. The results of this process will be reflected when revised data for 2010 and 2011 are released in February and March 2012.
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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