Salem, Ore. — In August, Oregon’s unemployment rate remained stable at 3.4%, the same as in July. This rate matched the state’s record low of 3.4%, previously reached in November and December of 2019. It’s noteworthy that since May, Oregon’s unemployment rate has consistently stayed below 4%, indicating a relatively stable job market in the state. On the national front, the U.S. unemployment rate increased slightly from 3.5% in July to 3.8% in August.
In terms of job numbers, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment experienced a decline of 1,200 jobs in August. This decrease followed a revised gain of 3,400 jobs in July. The sectors most affected by job losses in August were retail trade (-1,600 jobs), construction (-1,000 jobs), and professional and business services (-800 jobs). However, there were positive developments in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 2,100 jobs during the same period.
When looking at the broader picture of the past 12 months, Oregon’s payroll employment exhibited growth of 1.3%. It’s worth noting that the pace of job growth has slowed down over the last five months, with an average growth rate of about 2%. This is in contrast to the earlier economic recovery period, which saw 12-month growth rates exceeding 3% for much of the previous two years.
Certain industries in Oregon have seen significant growth over the past year. Notably, leisure and hospitality added 10,500 jobs, representing a 5.3% increase, although it is still 6,100 jobs below its pre-pandemic peak in February 2020. Health care and social assistance also experienced rapid job growth, adding 14,000 jobs, or 5.2%, with social assistance contributing 6,300 jobs to that increase. Government employment expanded by 9,400 jobs, or 3.1%, over the past year, particularly at the local government level, which has now surpassed its pre-pandemic employment levels.
However, some industries in Oregon have contracted over the past 12 months. Manufacturing, for instance, saw a decrease of 4,100 jobs, representing a decline of 2.1%. Retail trade also cut jobs, with a reduction of 3,700 jobs, or 1.8%, with most retail component industries experiencing slight declines since August 2022. Furthermore, after a period of growth from 2019 through 2021, the transportation, warehousing, and utilities sector retraced some of its gains, shedding 3,200 jobs, or 4.0%, over the past year.