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Oregon Statewide Unemployment Rate - May 2011
Oregon's 9.3% Unemployment Rate Closes In On U.S. Rate
CONTACT:  David Cooke, Economist
(503) 947-1272
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.3 percent in May and 9.5 percent (as revised) in April. Meanwhile, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in May and 9.0 percent in April.
Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data)
In May, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment added 1,300, following a revised gain of 1,100 in April. These two months followed a decline of 2,000 jobs in March. Thus the flat trend from March to May is in contrast with the state’s rapid job gains during October through February, when 29,600 jobs were added, averaging nearly 6,000 jobs per month.
In May, performance among the major industries was mixed, with construction, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality cutting jobs while many service-providing industries grew their payrolls.
Construction employment has trended downward on a seasonally adjusted basis since February. This measure of employment stood at 69,100 in May, which was only 2,700 above the post-recession low reached in September 2010.
Since May 2010, construction of buildings is off 700 and heavy and civil engineering construction is down by 500. In contrast, specialty trade contractors has added 2,300 jobs.
Manufacturing experienced a weak May by adding only 100 jobs when a gain of 1,100 is the seasonal norm. Wood product manufacturing has been essentially flat so far this year, totaling 18,800 jobs in May. In contrast, other durable goods industries have expanded in recent months. Over-the-year gains have been the norm, with these industries each adding substantial numbers of jobs since May 2010: primary metals (+500 jobs), fabricated metals (+500), machinery (+900), and computer and electronic products (+1,500).
Leisure and hospitality is experiencing some volatility in recent months, adding only 2,500 jobs in May when a gain of 4,200 was the typical seasonal increase. However, over the long term, this sector is now up 3,500 jobs since May 2010, a gain of 2.1 percent. The industry’s over-the-year growth rate is nearly double that of total nonfarm payroll employment. Full-service restaurants, which makes up over one-third of all employment in the sector, grew rapidly by adding 1,600 jobs over the past year.
Financial activities added 1,200 jobs, when a loss of 300 is the normal pattern for May. This industry was hit hard in the aftermath of the national housing bubble. Its employment peaked at 107,900 in July 2007, then fell rapidly and steadily, reaching a low of 91,500 in January 2011. Since then, the industry has grown moderately.
Trade, transportation, and utilities added 2,900 jobs in May when a gain of 1,500 was the normal seasonal movement. Transportation and warehousing (+1,100 jobs) was a sub-industry adding a high percentage of jobs for the month. Trucking firms (+400 jobs) were hiring heading into their busy summer season.
Retail trade continued its expansionary phase, adding 1,400 jobs in May. Food and beverage stores added 700 jobs and is up 3,000 since last May. It employed 40,300, to reach its highest level ever and first time above 40,000. Meanwhile, general merchandise stores added 300 in May and is up 1,300 since May 2010. However this category, which employed 37,800 in May, has shown a stagnant long-term employment trend over the past 10 years and is nearly identical to its employment levels in May 2008 and in May 2009.
Hours and Earnings
(Establishment Survey Data)
The average workweek for Oregon manufacturing production workers was 39.2 hours in May, a drop from 39.6 in April. Despite the one-month decline, this measure of the workweek has generally trended higher over the past two years.
Average earnings of all private-sector payroll employees in Oregon edged down to $21.51 per hour in May from $21.69 in April. This large one-month drop brought the earnings figure down to near where it was during several months of 2010.
(Household Survey Data)
The national unemployment rate edged up to 9.1 percent in May from 9.0 in April. Oregon’s May rate of 9.3 percent sits 0.2 percentage point above the U.S. rate. The difference between the Oregon and the U.S. unemployment rates is so close that it is not statistically significant. This is the closest that Oregon has been to the U.S. since March 2008, when Oregon was also 0.2 percentage point above the U.S. At that time, Oregon’s rate was 5.3 percent, while the U.S. rate was 5.1 percent.
May marked Oregon’s lowest unemployment rate in 29 months. The rate has not been lower since December 2008, when the rate was 9.2 percent.
Seasonally adjusted employment, as measured by the household survey, continued to rise in May, but not as rapidly as over the prior eight months. This measure of employment reached 1,807,492 in May, a gain 2,328 since April and a gain of more than 37,000 individuals since August.
In May, 179,201 Oregonians were unemployed.
Next Press Releases
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the May county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Monday, June 20th and the statewide rate and employment survey data for June on Tuesday, July 19th.
Change to Monthly Employment Estimates
For many years, monthly employment estimates for Oregon and its metropolitan areas have been developed by economists and analysts with the Oregon Employment Department. These estimates were based on a small monthly survey of Oregon businesses and these economists' extensive knowledge about their local economies. Starting with the employment data for March 2011, responsibility for these estimates has shifted to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The estimates developed by BLS will be more heavily dependent on the sample of businesses and less reliant on knowledge of local economic events. This change could result in increased month to-month variability for the industry employment numbers, particularly for Oregon's smaller metropolitan areas. 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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