Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Drops To 4.4% In March, Nonfarm Payroll Employment Up By 2,400 Jobs

Portland, Ore. — Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% in March, down from 4.7% in February, according to the latest report by the Oregon Employment Department. The state’s unemployment rate has remained relatively steady and near historic lows for the past 20 months since August 2021, averaging 4.3% during that time and ranging between 3.5% and 4.8%.

Comparatively, the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.5% in March and 3.6% in February. The report also shows that in March, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2,400 jobs, following a revised loss of 2,700 jobs in February.

The largest job gains were in health care and social assistance (+1,600 jobs) and professional and business services (+1,200), while the only major industries to cut a substantial number of jobs were retail trade (-900 jobs) and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-500).

The health care and social assistance industry has added jobs at a rapid pace over the past year, with 8,300 jobs added since March 2022, a 3.1% increase. Most of the gains over the year were in social assistance, which added 5,400 jobs since March 2022 and is now 2,500 jobs above its pre-pandemic high. Hospitals added 800 jobs in March, following little gain during the prior 11 months.

Professional and business services grew rapidly over the past three years, adding 8,900 jobs, or 3.4%, since March 2022. The administrative and waste services industry was a primary driver of job expansion, adding 4,400 jobs, or 4.2%, in the past 12 months. Employing 110,400 in March, this large industry makes up one in 20 nonfarm payroll jobs in Oregon and includes firms such as temporary help services, janitorial services, landscaping services, and telephone call centers.

Retail trade hovered close to 210,000 jobs throughout the past two years, with a slightly downward trend over the past year. Since March 2022, the broad retail trade sector lost 1,600 jobs (-0.8%). The only published component industry expanding in that time was food and beverage retailers, which added 900 jobs.

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the March county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, April 25, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for April on Wednesday, May 17.

It is important to note that all numbers in the report are seasonally adjusted except for the components of health care and social assistance and retail trade.