Friday, April 24, 2015

Oregon's Over-the-Month Unemployment Rate Drop Largest in Nation

Oregon's over-the-month unemployment rate drop was the largest in the nation in March 2015. The decline of 0.4 percentage point tied with the state of Washington for the top spot. Three states had drops of 0.3 percentage point.

Over the year, Oregon's unemployment rate decline of 1.7 percentage points was topped only by three other states. The biggest drop was seen by Kentucky (-2.1 percentage points). Louisiana had the bottom spot among states on the list as it's unemployment rate increased by 1.1 percentage points over the year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Oregon Unemployment Rates by County, March 2015

Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March at 4.4 percent. Grant County (9.7%) registered the highest rate for the month. Eleven of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 5.4 percent and 12 were at or below March’s national rate of 5.5 percent. Harney County saw the largest improvement in its unemployment rate over the year with a drop of 3.6 percentage points.

For county data, visit our press release page.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Oregon’s Agriculture Sector

In 2013, the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector employed more than 49,000 in Oregon, an all-time high. The sector showed rapid job growth in 2012 and 2013, adding nearly 4,500 jobs during and growing 10 percent.

Oregon's agriculture sector typically shows slow and steady growth, but this recent growth followed steep employment losses during the Great Recession. Oregon's agriculture sector, in particular nurseries and grass seed farmers, was hard hit by the national slowdown in housing. In 2009 alone, the sector declined 8 percent, shedding nearly 4,000 jobs.

Oregon's agriculture sector has grown more slowly than the industry nationally, in terms of its output, as measured by its contribution to Oregon's gross domestic product (GDP). The graph below illustrates that in particular during the recent recession the nation significantly outpaced Oregon's agriculture sector. 

Prior to 2006, Oregon was trending fairly close to the nation. In 2013, Oregon's output within agriculture was 66 percent higher than it was in 1997. Nationally, the industry's output was 147 percent above its 1997 level.

For more on Oregon's agriculture sector, read Pat O'Connor's full article: Oregon's Agriculture Sector.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.4 Percent, Inching Below the National Rate

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell from 5.8 percent to 5.4 percent in March. This is the first time Oregon’s rate has been lower than the national rate (5.5%) since 1996, but it is not a big enough difference to be statistically significant.

Over the year, Oregon’s unemployment rate fell by 1.7 percentage points.

“The falling unemployment rate is not unexpected given the state’s solid job growth over the past year,” says State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks. “It just shows how much the state’s economy has improved.”

The state gained more than 56,000 jobs over the year, a gain of 3.3 percent. The solid growth was reflected across a diverse group of industries, including professional and business services, health care and social assistance, and manufacturing.

While these substantial job gains have contributed to the declining unemployment rate, other factors work to move the unemployment rate in the other direction.

“These large drops [in the unemployment rate] won’t continue forever,” according to Beleiciks. “If Oregon’s labor force starts growing like it did last year, we could actually see the unemployment rate rise again, even with the job growth.”

In March, Oregon’s labor force dropped by about 6,500 (seasonally adjusted). The number of employed rose by 1,600, while the number of unemployed decreased by 8,100.

Read the full press release here.

Friday, April 3, 2015

U.S. Job Gains Smallest Since December 2013

The United States added 126,000 jobs in March, the smallest monthly increase since December 2013. Job gains averaged about 324,000 a month in the last quarter of 2014, while an average of 197,000 jobs per month were added in the first quarter of 2015.

State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks says of the decline in growth, "Businesses that provide support activities for oil and gas extraction have been cutting jobs in recent months. That’s because lower crude oil prices are slowing expansion in the industry."

Oil and gas extraction support is part of the mining industry, which has lost 30,000 jobs so far in 2015.

Closer to home were the national job losses in manufacturing. "Oregon’s manufacturing sector has been steadily adding jobs over the last year," says Beleiciks. Manufacturing employment grew by 0.7 percent in February and 4.3 percent between Feb 2014 and Feb 2015.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.5 percent, down 1.1 percentage points over the year. That's about 1.8 million fewer unemployed persons.

We’ll find out if Oregon's employment figures follow the nation's in the Oregon Employment Department's April 14, 10:00 a.m. press release. Visit our press release page for information.

Read the BLS' full release here: The Employment Situation - March 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Many More Job Vacancies Around the State in 2014

During 2014, Oregon’s private employers were looking to fill about 45,000 job vacancies at any given time, according to new annual figures from the Oregon Employment Department’s Job Vacancy Survey. The Job Vacancy Survey provides a snapshot of the labor market job seekers face. 

The number of job vacancies in 2014 increased by 40 percent compared with 2013. 

The average starting wage offered by employers also improved over the year, increasing by 4 percent to $15.67. The largest increase in vacancies was among jobs offering starting wages between $10 and $15 per hour. There were 15,200 vacancies in this range, up 72 percent from 2013. Vacancies offering more $15 per hour increased 29 percent to 11,900. There were slightly fewer vacancies offering less than $10 per hour in 2014. That’s partly because the increase in Oregon’s minimum wage from $8.95 in 2013 to $9.10 in 2014 narrowed that wage range.

One key to finding a job that pays higher than average wages is to have at least some postsecondary training or other work related qualification. The average wage offered for vacancies requiring education beyond high school was more than $17 per hour. Average wages increased for jobs requiring college degrees. The average hourly wage was $20 per hour for vacancies that required an associate degree, $31 per hour for a bachelor’s degree, and $38 for a graduate degree. Vacancies that did not require education beyond high school offered hourly wages of $12 per hour.

Employers also offered higher wages when their vacancies required more than a year of previous experience. Vacancies with no experience requirement paid an average of $11 per hour. Those requiring less than one year of experience paid $12 per hour. For vacancies that required one to five years of previous work experience, the average wage offered was $18 per hour, while those that required five or more years of experience averaged $32 per hour.

The health care and social assistance industry accounted for almost one-fifth of vacancies, more than any other industry sector. Four additional industries each accounted for more than 10 percent of Oregon job vacancies: management, administrative, and waste services (which includes company headquarters and temporary staffing agencies, among other businesses); retail trade; leisure and hospitality; and manufacturing.

Characteristics of job vacancies can vary significantly by industry. For example, nine out of 10 health care vacancies were for permanent positions, and 39 percent required education beyond high school. In natural resources and mining, however, just 18 percent of vacancies in 2014 were for permanent jobs, and only 3 percent required education beyond high school. The specific occupations being recruited make a big difference in how industry-level details play out – almost two-thirds of the natural resources and mining vacancies were for farmworkers, of which only 11 percent were permanent positions and most were seasonal. Health care recruitment was focused on registered nurses, nursing assistants, and medical assistants, which were almost always permanent positions.

Every region of the state had more vacancies in 2014 than in 2013. Eastern Oregon saw the greatest percentage growth in vacancies over the year, up 73 percent from 2013, and the Portland area followed, with 44 percent more vacancies in 2014 than in 2013. The Portland Tri-County area had just over 23,000 vacancies in 2014, 51 percent of the statewide total.  

The Oregon Job Vacancy Survey has been conducted since 2008. The 2014 estimates are based on responses from 10,400 Oregon employers. Vacancy survey results for the first quarter of 2015 are scheduled for release in April 2015. A special report on Oregon’s difficult-to-fill vacancies will be available later this spring.

For more details on statewide and regional vacancies, visit the “publications” tab on and scroll down to the section titled “Job Vacancy Survey.”

Employment Department economist Jessica Nelson discusses the vacancy survey release in the podcast below.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

February Unemployment Rate Decreases in All but One of Oregon’s Counties

Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February at 4.7 percent. Grant County, the only county not to see a drop in February, registered the highest rate for the month at 10.1 percent. Twelve of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 5.8 percent and seven were at or below February’s national rate of 5.5 percent. Harney County saw the largest improvement in its unemployment rate over the year with a drop of 3.0 percentage points.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in all of Oregon’s six broad regions between February 2014 and February 2015. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (4.5%) and Southern Oregon (+3.6%). The Willamette Valley (+3.0%), Portland (+2.6%), the Oregon Coast (1.8%), and Eastern Oregon (1.5%) also saw growth.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Oregon's January Unemployment Rate Decrease Largest in Nation

Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released January’s state-by-state unemployment figures. This comparison lets us know how Oregon matches up to the rest of nation’s states.

Over the month, Oregon’s unemployment rate decrease of 0.4 percentage point was more than any other state in the United States. Idaho, Maine, and Rhode Island followed with a decrease of 0.3 percentage point, and 10 states saw a decrease of 0.2 percentage point. Nineteen states saw a bigger over-the-year decrease than Oregon, which came in at 0.9 percentage point below its January 2014 rate.

State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks says, “The large drop in Oregon’s January unemployment rate was the result of very strong job growth in recent months. More Oregonians are employed than ever before and the strength of the labor market is showing across the major indicators.”

Oregon's strong job growth over the year (3.3%) was sixth in the nation, tied with Washington, and just ahead of California (3.2%) and Idaho (3.1%). North Dakota (4.3%) saw the highest job growth among states between January 2014 and January 2015, followed by Utah (4.0%).

Over the month, Idaho’s 1.4 percent job growth was by far the highest in the nation. Oregon’s 0.4 percent job growth was the 11th highest.

While we don't have data on all states from February yet, we do have Oregon's February employment data, which can be found in our earlier blog post Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.8 Percent in February.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.8 Percent in February

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in February, down from the 6.3 percent January rate. This was the second consecutive large drop in the unemployment rate (the rate was 6.7% in December), which now sits at its lowest since May 2008.

Oregon’s unemployment rate is now within three tenths of the U.S. rate, the smallest gap since October 2013. Notice below that the gap between the United States and Oregon rates had been increasing in the second half of 2014, but has declined sharply these last two months.

State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks shared his take on this month’s figures. “It’s unusual to see the unemployment rate fall so fast, but not surprising because there has been so much job growth in recent months,” said Beleiciks.

Oregon added 2,400 nonfarm jobs in February, and between November and January added almost 20,000 jobs. February’s leading industries were leisure and hospitality (+2,100 jobs), along with health care and social assistance (+1,100 jobs).

For more on Oregon’s Employment Situation, read and watch today’s press release.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Population Growth Faster Among Minority Groups

Oregon's total population reached roughly 3.93 million in 2013, an increase of 10.8 percent (+383,000) since 2003. Among different race and ethnic groups, minority groups grew much faster than the statewide rate of 10.8 percent, and those reporting Hispanic ethnicity grew faster than non-Hispanics.

In 2013, 12.3 percent (483,758) of Oregonians were of Hispanic ethnicity, which was less than the 17.1 percent nationwide. This was, however, an increase from the 9.3 percent figure for the 2003 Oregon population. Over the same period, the entire Oregon Hispanic population grew by 47.1 percent.

Data from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program distinguish between race and ethnicity. In studying population trends in Oregon and across the United States, it is important to know that the term Hispanic is in reference to ethnicity. Identifying as a certain ethnicity is separate from race identification. For example, one who identifies as an American Indian can be of Hispanic or non-Hispanic ethnicity.

Race is broken into six major groups by the Census Bureau: White alone; Black or African American alone; Asian alone; American Indian and Alaska Native alone; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone; and Two or More Races. Since White alone makes up the majority of the Oregon population, we refer to the other five categories as minority groups.

Here are the population counts by race for Oregon:

Fore more on Oregon's population, read the full article: Population Growth Faster Among Minority Group.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Lowest Since July 2008

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in January from December 2014’s 6.7 percent. According to State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks, “It’s been a really long time since unemployment was this low in Oregon. We have to go back to July 2008 for the last time Oregon’s unemployment rate was this low.”

The drop in the unemployment rate came from a decline in the number of unemployed individuals in Oregon. There were 124,000 unemployed in January, down more than 7,000 from December 2014, and more than 14,000 from one year ago.

Nonfarm employment rose by 7,600 in January 2015, the fourth time in five months Oregon has added more than 6,000 jobs. “Employers are adding a lot of jobs right now. In fact, employment is at record levels when you adjust for the time of year,” says Beleiciks.

A few more highlights from the Oregon Employment Department’s January 2015 press release:
  • Employment rose by 55,600 over the year, an increase of 3.3 percent.
  • Retail trade (+8,000 jobs or 4.1%); manufacturing (+7,000 jobs or 4.0%); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (2,600 jobs or 4.6%); and professional and business services (+13,100 jobs or 6.1%) all made significant gains over the year.
For more on Oregon's employment situation, view the latest Oregon Employment Department Press Release.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Consumer Price Index Declines Driven by Decrease in Gas Prices

The Consumer Price Index dropped by 0.7 percent in January 2015 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The all items index decrease was driven mostly by a decrease in gas prices, which fell 18.7 percent in January. In fact, if gas had not changed prices in January, the all items index would have increased by 0.1 percent for the month.

Over the year, the all items index fell by 0.1 percent. This marks the first time prices have fallen over the year since 2009.

For the full report on CPI, read the BLS' latest news release.