Thursday, January 29, 2015

2014 in Review: End of the Seven Year Jobs Ditch

by Nick Beleiciks, State Employment Economist

The seven-year jobs ditch that Oregon’s economy endured since December 2007 came to an end when payroll jobs finally surpassed their pre-recession peak level in November 2014 (Graph 1). The state’s economy added 50,300 jobs over the year, the largest November to November jobs gain since 1996. Oregon’s over-the-year growth rate of 3.0 percent was well above the historical average and the fastest job growth since 2004 when the growth rate was also 3.0 percent.

Despite the job growth, a high number of unemployed Oregonians and an inflow of new workers kept downward pressure on worker earnings. The average hourly wage in 2014 was about $23.00 per hour. After adjusting for inflation, the average worker in Oregon is earning less than they were during the recession.

Oregon’s unemployment rate barely fell over the year, moving from 7.3 percent in November 2013 to 7.0 percent in November 2014. The strong job growth during the year was matched by a large increase in Oregon’s labor force. The labor force growth mostly consisted of people who found employment, but enough unemployed labor force entrants kept the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate elevated. The unemployment rate in 2014 was just below Oregon’s long-term (back to 1976) historical average of 7.3 percent.

Other highlights from the report:
  • The private sector drove job growth in 2014. Four out of five jobs added were in the private sector.
  • Central Oregon was the fastest growing area in the state.
  • Labor force participation started to increase.

For a more in-depth analysis of Oregon's 2014 labor market, read Nick Beleiciks' full article: 2014 in Review: End of the Seven Year Jobs Ditch.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Drops to Six-Year Low

This information is from the Oregon Employment Department's January 21, 2015 press release

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest point in over six years. At 6.7 percent, the unemployment rate is the same as it was in August 2008, right before the worst months of the financial crisis which led to the Great Recession.

Job growth continued at a rapid pace in December, adding 8,200 jobs. The last three months of 2014 added a combined total of 24,300 jobs, which was the largest three-month gain since comparable records began in 1990.

Seven of the major industry sectors added at least 800 jobs in December. It’s rare for so many industries to gain that many jobs in one month. Retail trade added 2,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, which means retailers hired more workers than they usually do during the holiday season.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Holiday Hiring and Broad Job Growth Boost Job Vacancies in Oregon

Oregon businesses reported 45,700 vacancies in fall 2014, an increase of 13,400 compared with fall 2013. The growing number of vacancies reflects strong job growth across Oregon in recent months.

Three large but diverse industries reported the most job vacancies in the fall. Holiday hiring boosted retail trade vacancies, which totaled 7,200. Health care, a perennial job vacancy industry leader, reported 6,700 vacancies. Manufacturing experienced stronger job growth in 2014, and registered the third-highest vacancy total in the fall (5,200).

The variety among industries with the most vacancies translates into a diverse group of opportunities for those seeking a job in Oregon. In the fall, retail trade businesses most commonly reported vacancies for retail salespersons, cashiers, and delivery drivers. Registered nurses and nursing assistants topped the list of health care occupations with vacancies. Manufacturers sought assemblers and machine operators, drivers, and engineers, among others.

Although retail trade -- which generally offers a lower average wage for vacancies -- led the industry totals, fall 2014 brought the highest average wage ($16.47) seen in the quarterly Oregon Job Vacancy Survey. Average wages generally increase along with educational requirements. Vacancies that required postsecondary training (examples include a certification or associate's degree) had an average hourly wage $7.00 above vacancies that required a high school diploma. Similarly, vacancies with bachelor's or advanced degree requirements paid an average wage $12.00 higher than the postsecondary openings.

For more information about the Oregon Job Vacancy Survey, visit the Publications page at, or take a look at the fourth quarter snapshot summary.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Help Wanted Online Ads Declined by 1,100 in December

December brought a slight reduction in hiring demand, as measured by the number of help wanted ads posted online. There were 1,100 fewer ads in Oregon and 79,200 fewer ads nationally. Even so, recent help wanted ad trends suggest that job growth and the labor market will continue to see strength.

Looking across the state, about half of Oregon’s online advertisements were in the Portland area. Eastern Oregon was the only area without rapid growth in the number of ads over the last year. Lane County saw the fastest rate of growth in ad volume, up 40 percent over the year.

For more information about The Conference Board's Help Wanted Online (HWOL) series, take a look at the detailed HWOL index summary for December, or contact Nick Beleiciks.

Friday, January 9, 2015

U.S. Jobs Up and Unemployment Rate Down, Wages Don't Budge

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 252,000 in December. The unemployment rate dipped from 5.8% to 5.6%. Over the year, job growth averaged 246,000 per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 194,000 in 2013. 

While the U.S. gained jobs and the unemployment rate declined, wages were a different story. According to State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks, “The national economy is seeing the fastest sustained job growth since 2006 and the unemployment rate has fallen to where it was in 2008. Real wage growth is a holdout in the labor market’s recovery, however, with average wage increases just equaling inflation over the last year.”

Wages in the U.S. fell in December by about about 0.2%, or five cents. In November, wages grew by about 0.2%.

Other highlights from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' December jobs report:
  • Unemployed persons decreased by 383,000 to 8.7 million in December.
  • Significant December employment gains occurred in professional and business services (+52,000), construction (+48,000), and education and health services (+48,000).
  • The U.S. unemployment rate was down 1.1 percentage points over the year.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Nurse for All Seasons

In the health care field, there are nurses working at every level, from basic care as provided by licensed practical nurses up through advanced practice nurses like practitioners, midwives, and anesthetists.

There is some crossover in the tasks performed by the various levels of nurses. All of them take medical histories, operate medical equipment, examine patients, and monitor patient health. All of them must be skilled in communication techniques such as active listening and disseminating information. Nurses generally work with other medical professionals so they need to be strong team players.

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses perform more basic care for patients, such as changing bandages and helping them dress. They may also collect samples.

Registered nurses routinely perform diagnostic tests on patients and interpret the results. They are often responsible for teaching patients and their families how to manage an illness or injury. Some RNs choose to specialize in a certain field, health condition, or a part of the body.

In addition to the duties already listed, advanced practice nurses – i.e., nurse midwives, anesthetists, and practitioners – also prescribe and administer medication, diagnose and treat ailments, and refer patients to other specialists as needed. Anesthetists provide anesthesia and pain management. Midwives care specifically for women, especially during pregnancy and childbirth. Practitioners serve as primary and specialty care providers.

Here's a look at how wages vary among nurses:

To see how you can become a registered nurse, and to learn more about the profession, read Brooke Jackson's full article: A Nurse for All Seasons.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Employment Totals 58,800 in Oregon's Forest Sector

In recent months, the Oregon Employment Department has worked in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Forest Resources Institute to estimate employment in the state's forest sector.

Oregon had roughly 58,800 forest sector jobs in 2013. Primary forest products -- which includes sawmills and wood preservation, paper manufacturing, and veneer and plywood manufacturing -- made up the largest segment of the total, with 17,400 jobs. Forestry support accounted for another 16,900 jobs, found in logging, timber tract operations, and other forestry support-related industries.

The state's forest sector also includes employment in secondary forest products (e.g., millwork and various types of wood product manufacturing), jobs with forest product wholesalers, forestry management jobs, and wood product transportation.

The bulk of forest sector employment occurs in privately owned establishments (50,100 jobs), while federal, state, and local government contribute 5,500 jobs. The Employment Department's records include only those businesses subject to Unemployment Insurance taxes, which excludes the self-employed and some other forestry-related firms. To account for these jobs, we found another 3,200 forest sector jobs with "nonemployers" using 2012 data (the most recent available) from the U.S. Census Bureau. Nonemployers are businesses that have no paid employment or payroll, are subject to federal income taxes, and have receipts of $1,000 or more.

The average annual wage for Oregon's forest sector was $49,200 in 2013. That's slightly above the $44,400 annual average for all private covered employment in the state, as well as the $45,000 average annual employment for all jobs statewide.

For more information on Oregon's forest sector, check out the newly released Oregon Facts and Figures 2015-2016 report.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Oregon's Minimum Wage is Now $9.25

Minimum wage increased by 15 cents on January 1, 2015. State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks discusses the increase in the podcast below:

A few highlights from the podcast:

  • Minimum wage in Oregon is now $9.25, up from $9.10
  • Oregon's minimum wage is tied to inflation. Even though a worker making minimum wage at 30 hours a week will earn an extra $234 over the year, this is not a 'real' increase. It is simply keeping up with inflation.
  • We don't see a noticeable change in the topline employment numbers when minimum wage increases. There are so many factors at play in the economy that it's tough to measure the overall effect of a minimum wage increase on employment.
  • 6% of OR jobs pay minimum wage, but this increase will affect at least 8% of wage earners. For example, someone making $9.20 will also see a raise. 

Here's a look at minimum wage in Oregon over the years, both adjusted for inflation (in 2015 prices) and not adjusted.

For more on the minimum wage increase, read our posts: New Year, New Minimum Wage and Minimum-Wage Jobs a Smaller Share of Total in Metro Areas.

Minimum-Wage Jobs a Smaller Share of Total in Metro Areas

Oregon’s minimum wage will increase by 15 cents to $9.25 on January 1, 2015. This is the second-highest state minimum wage in the nation, just behind Washington (which will be $9.47 on Jan. 1).

 While information is not available on how many jobs will be affected on January 1, 2015, job counts from the first quarter of last year provide a good idea. In the first quarter of 2014, about 6 percent (103,470) of jobs covered by unemployment insurance in Oregon paid minimum wage or less.

Estimates from the Oregon Employment Department show the share of jobs paying minimum wage ranged from 4 percent in Multnomah County (where 19,389 jobs paid minimum wage or less) to 11 percent in Malheur County (where 1,397 jobs paid minimum wage or less).

While a larger population means more minimum wage jobs exist in metro areas, the share of jobs paying minimum wage is smaller. The Portland metro area had the lowest percentage of jobs paying minimum wage. In fact, Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties were all in the bottom five counties with lowest percentage of minimum wage paying jobs. Salem metro, made up of Marion (8%) and Polk (9%) counties, had the highest share of jobs paying minimum wage among the state's metros.

For more on the statewide minimum wage increase, check out yesterday's New Year, New Minimum Wage post.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year, New Minimum Wage

As the ball drops on 2014, many Oregon workers will experience an increase in their hourly earnings.

Oregon's minimum wage rate will increase to $9.25 per hour on January 1, 2015. The state's minimum wage is linked to inflation and will rise 15 cents per hour, or 1.6 percent. Oregon's minimum wage has been set at $9.10 per hour since January 1, 2014. The federal minimum wage has been set at $7.25 per hour since 2009.

State wage records show that Oregon had roughly 141,800 jobs paying less than $9.25 per hour in the first quarter of 2014. Leisure and hospitality had the highest number, with 55,600 jobs paying less than $9.25 per hour. Retail trade followed with 30,700 jobs. Industries in which a substantially larger-than-average share of jobs paid less than $9.25 per hour included leisure and hospitality, natural resources and mining, and retail trade.

Despite increasing along with inflation since 2004, minimum wage jobs remain relatively stable as a share of overall employment. In each year over the past decade, minimum wage jobs have accounted for 5 percent or 6 percent of all jobs in the state.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Employment Fun Facts for Christmas!

Tomorrow marks the Christmas holiday. We're getting in the spirit with a few employment-related fun facts:

Oregon's ranking among all U.S. states for supplying Christmas trees worldwide

The number of pet supplies stores in Oregon with perfect last-minute gifts for your furry family members

Jobs working in Oregon's jewelry stores in 2013, helping those who opt for sparkly holiday gifts

The approximate number of holiday hiring jobs added in Oregon in 2013

6.4 million
Estimated number of Christmas trees harvested statewide in 2013

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

More than 31,000 Workers Hired in Oregon Last Holiday Season

When you’re standing in line this week to make a purchase and a cashier opens an extra register, or a salesperson spends extra time helping you find that perfect gift, or a driver helper hops out of the truck to deliver an online order to your doorstep, take a moment to think about those seasonal holiday workers that make your shopping easier.

More than 31,000 people were added last season by businesses in Oregon’s holiday hiring industries. That was more hires than the year before, but fewer hires than the average holiday increase since 2001. The number of holiday hires hovered just above 40,000 in the years leading up to the recession, but fell to a low of 27,200 in 2009, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics program.

We won’t know how this season’s holiday hiring compares with prior years until late in the New Year, but employment forecasts and early estimates suggest holiday hiring will be slightly better than average this year.

For a list of the industries with strong holiday employment patterns and to learn about seasonal holiday hiring in Oregon see Unwrapping Holiday Hiring, written by our state employment economist, Nick Beleiciks.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Employment Gains Over the Year in All Regions of Oregon

This morning the Employment Department released the county-level unemployment rates and jobs numbers for November. Hood River County had Oregon's lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (5.4%), while Grant County (10.7%) posted the highest rate for the month.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in each of the state's broad regions between November 2013 and November 2014. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (3.0%) and Southern Oregon (2.4%).

You can find more information about unemployment rates and employment estimates at!