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Oregon Statewide Unemployment Rate - January 2012
2/28/2012
CONTACT: David Cooke
Economist
(503) 947-1272
david.c.cooke@state.or.us
 
Oregon’s Payroll Employment Outperformed Expectations in January and
the Unemployment Rate Fell to 8.8 Percent

 
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.8 percent in January and 9.0 percent in December. Meanwhile, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged down to 8.3 percent in January from 8.5 percent in December.
 
Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data)
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment gained 5,400 in January, following a revised loss of 300 in December. January job gains were led by manufacturing (+1,700 jobs); trade, transportation and utilities (+1,300); educational and health services (+1,200); and financial activities (+1,100). None of the major industries saw losses of more than 500 jobs.
 
Manufacturing cut only 700 jobs at a time of year when a loss of 2,400 is the typical seasonal pattern. Most of the durable goods industries posted little over-the-month employment changes. Although they saw relatively steady hiring activity to start the year, several of these industries have grown substantially since January 2011. Fabricated metal product manufacturing reached a recent low point of 13,300 jobs in January 2010. Since then, it has ramped up its employment level to reach 14,900 by January of this year. Despite this gain, the industry is well below its peak of the prior two decades, when it averaged 18,000 jobs in 1998.
 
Similarly, machinery manufacturing has been growing its headcount over the past 24 months. It reached a low of 9,300 two years ago and employed 11,000 this January. Meanwhile, computer and electronic product manufacturing employed close to 35,000 throughout most of 2009 and 2010. During early 2011, employment grew modestly and stood at 36,500 in January 2012.
Transportation equipment manufacturing bottomed at close to 10,000 in all of 2009 and 2010. Since then, it has added workers at a steady clip, and employed 11,200 by January.
 
Trade, transportation, and utilities dropped its employment by 10,800 in January following the buildup leading into the holidays. This job loss was less than the 12,100-job decline predicted by normal seasonal factors for the first month of the year. Retail trade cut 8,100 in January as many of the temporary holiday workers were let go. Despite the job loss, retail was up 3,100 compared with its January 2011 figure. Food and beverage stores gained 600 jobs over the year to lead all published retail components in such gains. Nonstore retailers cut 700 jobs since January 2011, the weakest performance of the published retail component industries.
 
Educational and health services cut only 3,300 jobs for January, which was fewer than the decline of 4,500 expected due to seasonal factors. This private-sector major industry continues to grow on a seasonally adjusted basis at a rapid and consistent pace. Private-sector educational services normally cuts jobs in January, and this year the loss was 2,400. But this was close to normal and the industry is up by 1,900 since January 2011. Each of the health care industries added between 1,000 and 1,400 jobs in the 12 months through January, while social assistance was up by 300 in that time.
 
Financial activities cut 900 jobs when a loss of more than double that amount was expected due to the time of year. This is good news for the industry, as it continued to see modest job losses throughout most of 2011. Employment in the industry, at 90,900 in January, was still 400 below its year-ago level.

Annual Revisions
(Establishment Survey Data)
Each year at this time the Oregon Employment Department releases revised data for prior years. This process results in more accurate data for the industry employment totals that is based on businesses’ quarterly tax reporting rather than a monthly survey.
 
The revisions indicate that Oregon’s economy was modestly stronger in late 2010 than originally reported, while somewhat weaker than originally reported during much of 2011.
 
This year’s revisions were within the normal range of revisions at the aggregate level of total nonfarm payroll employment. The revised 2011 annual average figure for Oregon was 1,618,100 jobs, which was a downward revision of 5,500 jobs or 0.3 percent.
 
As the table below displays, revisions for 2011 were largest in retail trade and in leisure and hospitality. Both of these major industries saw their 12-month average employment level for 2011 revised downward by about 3,000 jobs. These downward revisions were partially compensated by an upward revision of 2,200 jobs in wholesale trade.

Unemployment
(Household Survey Data)
The national unemployment rate dropped from 8.5 percent in December to 8.3 percent in January. Oregon’s January rate of 8.8 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 trended downward. At 8.8 percent in January, it is at its lowest rate since November 2008, when Oregon’s rate was 8.4 percent.
 
In January, 190,015 Oregonians were unemployed. This is 21,562 fewer individuals than in January 2011 when 211,577 Oregonians were unemployed.

Next Press Releases
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the January county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Monday, March 12th and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for February on Tuesday, March 20th.

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 also took over responsibility for the annual benchmarking process. The results of this process are reflected in today’s press release, which contains revised data for 2010 and 2011.
 
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