Friday, April 18, 2014

Finding and Keeping a Job Can be Tough for Long-Term Unemployed

In a post yesterday we referenced the long-term unemployed in Oregon. Today, a story from the Washington Post reports on the struggle for those unemployed for six months or more to find and keep jobs. 

The Post article says that new research shows roughly one-fourth of job seekers out of work for at least six months gained employment within a few months of taking part in a study. A year later though, more than one-third of that group was either unemployed again, or completely out of the labor force.

The Brookings Institution studied the long-term unemployed from 2008 to 2013, and found that in a given month, about 36 percent of those workers were in a job 15 months later. Their findings also show that 11 percent were in steady, full-time jobs. ​​

The Washington Post article reports that some economists argue that workers’ skills deteriorate during long spells of joblessness, worsening job prospects. Others counter that desperate workers are accepting jobs that are unstable or a poor match for their abilities, often for less money than they were making before. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Biz Announcements: A zombie (and other) survival gear store, a natural medicine shop, and bikes!

This week's Oregon business announcements are led by Columbia River Apocalypse, a store that offers zombie collectibles (brains!?...), along with emergency survival gear - don't get caught without it! Here are this week's highlights:

Openings and expansions:

  • Columbia River Apocalypse opened in The Dalles. It offers zombie collectibles, crossbows, survival knives, water purifiers, and first aid and emergency food kits. The Dalles Chronicle, 4/9/2014
  • Smitty's Outpost opened in Hermiston. It offers camping and fishing gear, firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. Northeast Oregon Now, 3/29/2014
  • A 223-room Residence Inn by Marriott will open in Portland's Pearl District. Portland Business Journal, 4/8/2014
  • Green Thumb Natural Medicine, LLC opened in southeast Portland. It offers acupuncture, nutrition, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, and bodywork services. The Bee, 4/4/2014
  • BBQ King, a food cart in Eugene, will open a restaurant. The Register-Guard, 4/5/2014
  • Weichert Wellness, a family health clinic, opened in Manzanita. The Daily Astorian, 4/10/2014
  • Sand Dollar Restaurant and Lounge opened in Rockaway Beach. Headlight-Herald, 4/2/2014
  • Piccadilly Cycles opened in Ashland. It offers electric-assisted and standard model bikes. Mail Tribune, 4/9/2014
  • Home Instead Senior Care in Bend plans to hire 30 people this year. The Bulletin, 4/16/2014
  • Regence BlueCross BlueShield will close its Salem offices and move 70 jobs to Medford. Statesman Journal, 4/11/2014
  • Cascade Sierra Solutions, a Eugene-based nonprofit that used federal grants and bank loans to retrofit older trucks with pollution controls and improve fuel efficiency, closed. The Register-Guard, 3/22/2014
For more business news, check out this week's full report.

Unemployment: Duration and Reasons in Oregon

This week we received a couple of variations on this question: How long do unemployed Oregonians stay unemployed?
The Current Population Survey tells us that in 2003 and 2004, the median duration that a person remained unemployed in Oregon totaled roughly 10 weeks. That dropped as low as seven weeks before the economic downturn. The state's largest monthly recessionary job losses occurred in 2008 (average -5,500 jobs per month) and 2009 (-6,700 jobs per month). The median number of weeks unemployed rose to eight and then 13, respectively, in these years.

Oregon started to see monthly job gains again in the spring of 2010. Employment growth was relatively slow though, with average monthly gains of 1,400 jobs that year. So although the recession had technically ended, many remained unemployed, and the median duration jumped upwards to 23 weeks.

Oregon saw more consistent, but still somewhat slow, growth in 2011 and 2012. The median duration of unemployment in the state started improving, down to 20 weeks in 2011, then 14 weeks in 2012. Last year brought more substantial employment gains, but data for the median duration of unemployment are not yet available.
Of course there's more than just the monthly jobs numbers driving the length of unemployment in Oregon**. Still, additional data from the Current Population Survey show that most unemployed Oregonians in 2008 and 2009 were those who lost their jobs (rather than new entrants to the labor force), or those who quit their jobs voluntarily.

Between mid-2009 and the beginning of 2013, the number of unemployed Oregonians who had lost their jobs declined from a peak of 142,000 to about 75,000. The declines are likely due to some combination of those job seekers finding employment, giving up the job search, or leaving the labor force for some other reason. Whatever the case, these subsets of the unemployed are affecting the overall duration of unemployment in Oregon.

**Extended Unemployment Insurance benefits potentially play a role in raising unemployment duration. During the Great Recession, a combination of federal and state extensions moved the maximum possible number of weeks to receive UI benefits from 26 to 99 weeks -- and for a brief period as many as 112 weeks -- in Oregon. In 2013, an unemployed Oregonian could potentially receive up to 63 weeks of UI benefits. That dropped back down to 26 weeks in 2014. UI benefit recipients are required to actively seek work, which keeps them in the unemployed count. If the long-term unemployed continue job seeking activity after exhausting benefits -- at 26 weeks pre-recession, at 99 weeks following the recession, or at 26 weeks again now -- they continue to count as unemployed. If not, they don't. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

STEM Job Growth Faster than Statewide Average

STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  If you've been part of a conversation involving education over the past few years, chances are this term has come up.  Talk has been prevalent among STEM professionals about shortfalls in labor supply in these fields.  There is much debate in this area, and while the supply of qualified STEM workers is not entirely clear, we can shed light on how many STEM-related workers are expected to be part of Oregon's future.

The Oregon Employment Department's 2012-2022 Occupational Projections tell us a number of different things about STEM-related occupations.  For example, STEM occupations are projected to grow 17.7 percent (or +33,047 jobs) between 2012 and 2022.  Breaking this growth down into more detailed areas, we get the following:

In this breakout, health practitioners and technicians are growing the most, while math science occupations are growing the fastest.  These broader fields are part of the STEM picture, but what about the more detailed, individual STEM jobs?  Here's a look at some individual occupations in the health care and computer fields:

For more information on STEM-related occupations, check out our 2012-2022 Employment Projections by Industry and Occupation.  You can get information at the statewide level, as well as the regional level.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

March Brings Biggest Job Gains in Oregon Since 2005

Preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Oregon's seasonally adjusted employment gain of 7,500 jobs in March was the largest monthly increase since late 2005.

The accelerated job growth in March represented broad-based economic expansion. Many industries added at least 1,000 jobs over the month. They included leisure and hospitality (+2,100); construction (+1,800); health care and social assistance (+1,400); professional and business services (+1,200); and retail trade (+1,200). 

Oregon's unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in March. That's essentially unchanged from 6.8 percent in February, but significantly below 8.0 percent in March 2013. Oregon's labor force increased for the fifth consecutive month, following nearly two years of monthly declines. These labor force increases can keep the unemployment rate from improving, even in times of job gains.

You can find more information from today's employment situation news release at

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oregon Job Vacancies Increased by 10,000 Over the Year

Oregon businesses reported 10,000 more job vacancies early in 2014 than they did the prior year. Businesses had approximately 32,700 job vacancies in the winter months of 2014, according to a Job Vacancy Survey recently completed by our department. 

The survey also shows that employers are having more difficulty finding the workers they need.  About half of vacancies in winter 2014 were considered by employers to be difficult to fill, an increase over the winter 2013 share of 39 percent.  

While employers reported having more difficulty finding the right workers, the average wage offered in winter 2014 was $0.74 higher than in winter 2013.  It is possible that these higher wages are being offered to attract more applicants for vacant positions.

The takeaway from this most recent vacancy survey is that job seekers have more opportunities, and that these opportunities, on average, pay more.  

Read more about job vacancies in Oregon in our full report.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Uneven Income Gains in U.S. Economic Recovery

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published an analysis of consumer expenditures across income groups before and after the Great Recession. They found that income gains and expenditures were unevenly distributed across socioeconomic groups.

In 2011, average household income (not adjusted) in the U.S. returned to the previous peak level in 2008. In 2012, unadjusted average household expenditures surpassed the 2008 level. 

While these averages have regained the ground they lost, U.S. households in different socioeconomic groups had distinctly different income experiences after 2008. The BLS divided households into five quintiles -- five equally sized groups divided from lowest to highest according to their annual income. The BLS reported that from 2008 to 2012, the top one-fifth of households accounted for more than 80 percent of all household income gains nationwide. At the same time, the lowest quintile saw a slight decrease in household income. The second-lowest and middle quintiles saw essentially no change in household income.

The highest quintile of households, which had the most income gains, also increased expenditures by roughly $2,300 between 2008 and 2012. These high-income household expenditures grew most for health care, transportation, and education. The lowest quintile of households generally decreased spending by $150 over these same years. The largest expenditure declines occurred for apparel, entertainment, and housing.

You can find more information -- and several graphics! -- in the BLS summary slide show.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

This Week's Oregon Biz Announcements!

Every week we pick a few highlights from our database of business openings and closings and list them here. The entire list of announcements can be found on our Around the State page. Here are a few highlights from this week!

Openings and expansions:

  • Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon plans to add 70 workers at its health care services operations center in Medford this year. Mail Tribune, 4/9/2014
  • 10 Barrel Brewing Co. will open a brewpub in Portland's Pearl District this summer. It will employ about 100 people. Portland Business Journal, 4/8/2014
  • Manaia, a restaurant offering Samoan food, coffee, smoothies, island-themed drinks, and desserts, will open in Hillsboro. Hillsboro Tribune, 3/31/2014
  • Tritac Shooting Solutions, an indoor shooting range, opened in northeast Salem. Statesman Journal, 3/31/2014
  • Solar Tracker 360 opened in Tillamook. It makes portable solar chargers. Headlight-Herald, 4/2/2014
  • The U.S. Department of Energy conditionally authorized Jordan Cove Energy Project in Coos Bay to export liquefied natural gas to non-Free Trade Agreement countries. The approval allows it to export LNG at a rate of 0.8 billion standard cubic feet per day for 20 years. The World, 3/24/2014
  • Valley Drugs pharmacy opened in Winston. It employs four people. The News-Review, 4/7/2014
  • Red Pinecone opened in Bend. It offers gourmet foods and gift baskets. The Bulletin, 4/8/2014
  • Source One Consulting opened in La Grande. It offers business consulting services. The Observer, 3/26/2014
  • Cloud Cap Technology in Hood River laid off about 25 people. It makes guidance systems, stabilized camera applications, and engines for unmanned aircraft systems. Northwest News Partnership, 4/1/2014
  • Skate World in Hillsboro will close in June. The Oregonian, 4/3/2014
  • Bill's Chicken and Steak House in Vancouver will close. It employs 21 people. The Columbian, 3/31/2014
For more business news, check out this week's full report.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ready, Willing, and Able: Oregonians With Disabilities

Full article by Erik Knoder available at

Nearly 20 million U.S. residents ages 18 through 64 identified themselves as disabled in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.  This number represents 10 percent of the U.S. population in those age groups. About 284,000 of those were Oregonians.

Around 79 percent of the U.S. population ages 21 through 64 with no disability had jobs in 2012. Only about 41 percent of those with any disability and 28 percent with a severe disability were employed.

A 2010 report, Americans With Disabilities, showed that the severity of a disability affected earnings and employment. Employed people ages 21 through 64 without a disability had median monthly earnings of $2,724. For people with a severe disability, median earnings dropped to $1,577.

Why did workers with disabilities earn less? Most (about 73%) of these workers reported that they were limited in the kind or amount of work they could perform. About 47 percent reported that they had difficulty remaining employed.

Although the employment outlook for people with disabilities can be discouraging, there seem to be advantages for businesses that hired disabled workers. Lower turnover may be one. This is consistent with findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that show employed people with a disability have greater job satisfaction.

Several Oregon businesses offer specialized training and job coaching services to people with disabilities. Besides helping disabled workers find and keep jobs, these services can reduce company costs associated with new hires.

For more information on employees with disabilities and for information highlighting the advantages of hiring employees with disabilities, read Erik Knoder's full article at

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Jobs in Mid-Wage Industries Trail in Recovery

Between the first quarter of 2007 and the third quarter of 2009, about 94,000 jobs in mid-wage industries disappeared.  In comparison, about 61,000 jobs were lost in higher-wage industries, while roughly 48,000 jobs were lost in lower-wage industries.

As broad economic recovery continues, which industries are gaining back the most jobs?  As it turns out, although 46 percent of jobs lost during the recession were from mid-wage industries, only 24 percent of jobs gained back have been in mid-wage industries.  In fact, mid-wage industries have gained back only 37 percent of jobs lost in the recession, lagging behind both higher-wage (89%) and lower-wage industries (113%).

A few of the biggest examples we refer to in the mid-range are ambulatory health care services, wood product manufacturing, and merchant wholesalers.  Higher-wage industries include hospitals, computer and electronic manufacturing, and professional, scientific, and technical services.  A few lower-wage industries are gas stations and apparel manufacturing. The entire list used in this analysis includes 84 industries.

While mid-wage industries trail in job growth, the recovery is broader than it was in the early stages. Initially, lower-wage industries added back more jobs than mid and higher-wage industries.  Now, mid-wage and higher-wage industries are adding back jobs, and Oregon's average real wage has increased.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Oregon's Help Wanted Ads Down in March

Oregon's online job advertisements fell by 4,600 to about 65,800 in March.  According to The Conference Board's Help Wanted OnLine data series, the number was also down about 600 (-1%) from 2013.  

While March saw a big drop in ads, February had relatively large gains.  This means there probably hasn't been much real change in labor demand so far in 2014.

The occupations with the highest number of online ads in March were registered nurses (3,100), heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (1,600), and retail salespersons (1,500).

Learn more about Oregon's online job ad statistics here: March 2014 Oregon Help Wanted Online Ads.

Friday, April 4, 2014

March National Employment and Oregon's Labor Underutilization

Today we have two releases to share from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): The Employment Situation and Labor Underutilization.

National Employment

First, the BLS monthly employment situation reported that U.S. employers added 192,000 jobs to payrolls in March. That's slightly higher than the average monthly gain of 183,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Professional and business services added the most jobs (57,000). Within the industry, employment grew by 29,000 in temporary help services, while computer systems design firms added 6,000 jobs, and architectural and engineering services grew by 5,000 jobs.

Government employment was unchanged in March. The BLS noted that federal government losses over the month (-9,000) were mostly offset by gains in non-education local government (8,000). Over the past year, federal government employment declined by 85,000 jobs.

Labor Underutilization

While the official unemployment rate for the U.S. was 6.7 percent in March, there are actually six measures of unemployment and/or underemployment -- or labor underutilization -- published by the BLS. The narrowest measure (U-1) includes only persons unemployed for 15 weeks or longer. By contrast, the broadest measure of labor underutilization (U-6) includes all unemployed persons, along with those marginally attached to the labor force (not actively seeking employment), and all those employed part-time who would like full-time employment. 

The official concept of unemployment (U-3) -- which differs slightly from the published unemployment rate -- falls in the middle. The U-3 measure includes all who are unemployed, actively seeking employment, and available to accept a job if offered to them.

In 2013, among all states and the District of Columbia, Nevada registered the highest rates for all six alternative measures of labor underutilization. Oregon had the third-highest U-6 rate (16.5%) among all states.

Those who are working part-time for economic reasons due to slack business conditions or the inability to find a full-time job make up the largest portion of Oregon's U-6 rate. Oregon had 149,800 unemployed residents in 2013. An additional 141,000 workers held part-time jobs for economic reasons. The number of people marginally attached to Oregon's labor force totaled 25,600. Discouraged workers fall under the marginally attached category; Oregon had 5,900 discouraged workers who gave up looking for jobs in 2013.

For more information on today's news, check out the employment situation and labor underutilization releases from the BLS.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Alliterative Biz News: Crystal Creek, The Sugar Shack, a Laundry Lounge, and More!

Every week, we pick a few highlights from our database of business openings and closings and list them here.  The entire list of announcements can be found on our Around the State page.  Here are a few highlights from this week!

Openings and a relocation:
  • Crystal Creek Meats is renovating a meat processing plant east of Roseburg. It will employ 10 to 20 people when it opens. The News-Review, 3/31/2014
  • Tight Lines Brewery will open in Brookings. Curry Coastal Pilot, 4/1/2014
  • Olene Country Store, located 10 miles outside of Klamath Falls, plans to reopen this summer. Herald and News, 3/19/2014
  • The Sugar Shack, a donut shop, opened in La Grande. The Observer, 3/26/2014
  • Spin Laundry Lounge, an eco-friendly laundry/bar/café, opened in north Portland. The Oregonian, 3/23/2014
  • The Circuit Bouldering Gym will open a location in Tigard. Daily Journal of Commerce, 3/10/2014
  • Top Drawer, a vintage consignment store, will open in downtown Salem. It will offer clothes, jewelry, lotions, and home décor and furnishings. Statesman Journal, 3/29/2014
  • 12 Belles, a business offering financial services to dental professionals, opened in Albany. Albany Democrat-Herald, 3/17/2014
  • Fred Meyer in Grants Pass is undergoing a $6.8-million renovation that will add a sushi/salad bar and a sporting-goods desk that sells guns. Grants Pass Daily Courier, 3/8/2014
  • Welch Allyn Inc., a medical device manufacturer in Beaverton, will lay off 84 workers at the end of next month. Portland Business Journal, 4/2/2014
  • Commercial Vehicle Group, Inc. in Tigard will close, laying off 80 people. Portland Business Journal, 3/27/2014
  • Waldo's Bar and Grill in Klamath Falls closed. Herald and News, 3/13/2014
For more business news, check out this week's full report.