Tuesday, June 19, 2018

May 2018 Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

Benton and Gilliam counties had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 3.0 percent in May 2018. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in May included Wheeler (3.1%) and Hood River (3.2%).

Eastern and Southern Oregon had higher unemployment rates in May 2018, which were still close to their record low unemployment rates since 1990. Grant County registered the highest unemployment rate for the month at 6.9 percent and is close to its lowest unemployment rate on record of 6.4 percent in October 2017. 

Sixteen of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. Nine counties had unemployment rates at or below the national rate of 3.8 percent. Gilliam and Wheeler counties saw their unemployment rates improve over the year by 1.1 percentage points, more than any other county.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in all of Oregon’s six broad regions between May 2017 and May 2018. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (+2.9%). Southern Oregon (+2.5%), the Willamette Valley (+1.9%), the Portland area (+1.5%), and the Oregon Coast (+1.2%) also added jobs. Eastern Oregon saw a negligible job growth rate of 0.2 percent. 
Read the full press release here

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Oregon Adds 4,800 Jobs in May; Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 4.1 Percent

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in May. For 17 consecutive months, the rate has been at or near 4.1 percent, its lowest level since comparable records began in 1976. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent in May, from 3.9 percent in April.

In May, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4,800 jobs, following a revised loss of 700 jobs in April. Four major industries added at least 900 jobs in May: construction (+1,600 jobs); health care and social assistance (+1,500); professional and business services (+1,000); and leisure and hospitality (+900). Only two major industries dropped in May: wholesale trade (-800 jobs) and retail trade (-600).

Over the past 12 months, Oregon’s nonfarm employment rose by 34,600 jobs, or 1.9 percent. This growth was slightly faster than the national growth rate of 1.6 percent during the same period. In Oregon, over-the-year job gains were strongest in construction (+9,600 jobs, or 9.9%); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+2,700 jobs, or 4.3%); and leisure and hospitality (+6,200 jobs, or 3.0%). Since May 2017, only two major industries cut jobs: government (-800 jobs, or -0.3%) and information (-300 jobs, or -0.9%).

Construction added 1,600 jobs in May, reaching an all-time high of 106,400 jobs. This was the first time construction rose above its previous record high reached more than 10 years ago in August 2007 when there were 105,400 jobs in construction. Since 2007, residential building construction has had the fastest growth rate of the industries within construction; at 18,700 jobs in May, it was 19 percent above its 2007 annual average. Building equipment contractors grew 12 percent over the past 11 years and nonresidential building construction grew 8 percent. Most other industries within the construction sector are still slightly below their record highs of 2007. However, heavy and civil engineering construction—at 10,100 jobs in May—remained 18 percent below its 2007 average.

To see the full press release, click here.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Oregon’s Wholesale Trade Industry

Wholesale trade companies are an integral part of the economy, functioning as intermediaries between manufacturers and the final end user customers. Another function is to store goods that neither the manufacturer nor the retailer can hold until consumers demand those products. From a manufacturer’s perspective, wholesalers create a manageable network of distribution channels to get their products into the hands of consumers.

In 2017, there were about 76,500 nonfarm payroll jobs in Oregon’s wholesale trade industry, representing about 4.1 percent of Oregon’s payroll employment. Due to higher than average wages, this industry accounts for 5.6 percent of Oregon’s total payroll. About 33,500 jobs were in merchant wholesalers of durable goods, another 28,700 in merchant wholesalers of nondurable goods. The smallest portion was electronic markets, agents and brokers with about 14,300 jobs in Oregon.

Employment with merchant wholesalers generally trended with the overall business cycle. Durable goods employment peaked in 2007 at 37,300 and then contracted to reach 30,700 in 2010. By 2017, employment rebounded, but still lags the previous pre-recession peak by about 3,800 jobs. On the other hand, merchant wholesalers of nondurable goods employment is above the previous pre-recession peak by about 2,500 jobs. Employment reached a prior peak in 2005 of 26,200 jobs and then declined to 23,600 in 2010. Employment rose steadily after 2010 to hit 28,700 by 2017. Electronic markets agents and brokers charted a more recession-resistant path since about the year 2000 in Oregon. After declining slightly from 1990 to 2000 when there were 8,700 payroll jobs, employment in this wholesale trade component climbed steadily to reach 14,300 jobs in 2017.
For information about the industry, read the full article written by Regional Economist Guy Tauer

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Employment and Wages in Oregon’s Real Estate Industry

Oregon’s real estate industry encompasses far more activities than just land, home, and commercial property sales. Real estate has eight component industries. Its largest component industry, real estate property managers, averaged nearly 9,600 jobs in 2017 or 45 percent of the real estate group’s covered employment. Offices of real estate agents and brokers averaged close to 3,900 jobs (18.1%), followed by lessors of residential buildings with just over 3,800 (18.0%). The five remaining component industries together represented close to 19 percent of real estate’s covered employment, averaging 4,000 jobs.
Annual pay in the real estate industry, as reported by Employment and Wages, averaged $44,120 in 2017, well below Oregon’s $51,132 all industries average. Covered payroll in real estate reached nearly $974 million in 2017, an increase of about $270 million since 2007.

Two of real estate’s component industries paid in excess of $70,000 annually: 1) other activities related to real estate paid an average of $76,093 in 2017; and 2) lessors of nonresidential buildings shelled out $72,006. On the low end, wages paid by lessors of other real estate property averaged just $24,303, while mini-warehouse and self-storage unit operators earned slightly more, at $24,916. Offices of real estate agents and brokers surpassed Oregon’s all industries wage, averaging $56,747, while offices of real estate appraisers landed close behind, at $55,163. Real estate property managers ($41,010) and lessors of residential buildings ($36,407) both fell below the real estate industry’s 2017 average wage.

Learn more about Oregon's real estate industry in the article written by Regional Economist Dallas Fridley

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ability of Oregon Workers to Speak English Varies by Job Type

In Oregon, about 124,000 workers speak English less than “very well” according to the American Community Survey responses collected from 2012 to 2016. This represents 7 percent of all Oregon workers. This group includes workers who don’t speak English, speak English “not well,” and speak English “well.” About 167,000 workers (9%) speak another language and speak English “very well,” while about 1.5 million workers (84%) speak only English.

The share of workers by ability to speak English varies a lot by occupation and industry. Workers that speak English less than “very well” tend to be in occupations with lower education requirements. Almost half of Oregon’s workers (14,834) in the farming, fishing, and forestry occupational group speak English less than “very well.” This occupational group includes agricultural workers; fishing and hunting workers; and forest, conservation, and logging workers. Other occupations with high concentrations of workers that speak English less than “very well” are in:
  • building, grounds cleaning and maintenance (24%, 16,131), which includes landscapers, janitors and maids;
  • production (16%, 17,975), which includes butchers, bakers, assemblers, and welders among others; and 
  • food preparation and serving (14%, 15,952), such as waitstaff, cooks, bartenders, and dishwashers.
Workers with a high level of proficiency in English are more likely to choose occupations they would like to be in. They are also more likely to be selected by employers for jobs that require more intensive use of English.

In Oregon, workers that speak another language and speak English “very well” are concentrated in occupations that have high and low education requirements. Occupations in architecture and engineering; computer and math; healthcare support; and life, physical, and social science have high concentrations of workers that speak a foreign language and speak English “very well.”

To learn more, read "Ability of Oregon Workers to Speak English Varies by Type of Job".

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Labor Force Participation: Women Haven’t Waited on the Sidelines in Years

As labor force participation surged to record highs in the late 1990s, a large source of new labor force entrants were women who hadn’t worked in the past. By the late 1990s women had closed much of the gap with male participation rates, as male participation was already declining throughout the 1980s. Since reaching its peak in the late 1990s, women’s participation has also trended downward, as the female population is aging to the same degree as the male population. Bringing more women into the labor force is a strategy often mentioned to grow the labor force, but the majority of women are already in the labor force and many women who aren’t currently in the labor force are already retired.

The female and male experience of the last recession highlighted some interesting trends. Labor force participation among males dropped throughout the recession, from 72.3 percent in 2007 – just prior to the recession – to 65.9 percent in 2013. Female participation actually increased during the recession, moving from 59.5 percent in 2007 to 61.3 percent in 2011, before a sharper drop took hold and the female participation rate dropped to 55.6 percent in 2013. Since 2013, male and female participation in Oregon have followed the same trend.

The different trends during recession likely result from a couple of factors. First, the sectors that dropped jobs very rapidly during the recession, construction and manufacturing particularly, employ mostly male workers. So males felt the brunt of those heavy job losses. Also, some females joined the labor force in the midst of the recession as their spouses lost jobs and income.
To learn more about trends in labor force participation rates in Oregon, read the full article Demographics Drive Long-Term Declines in Labor Force Participation, written by employment economist Jessica Nelson

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

April 2018 Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

Wheeler County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 3.0 percent in April 2018. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in April included Benton (3.1%), Gilliam (3.2%), and Hood River (3.2%). Grant County registered the highest unemployment rate for the month at 7.2 percent.

Twelve of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. Wheeler County saw its unemployment rate improve over the year by 1.4 percentage points, more than any other county. Klamath County saw its unemployment rate increase the most of any county over the past year, rising 0.5 percentage point to 6.3 percent. 

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in five of Oregon’s six broad regions between April 2017 and April 2018. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (+2.9%). Southern Oregon (+2.7%), the Willamette Valley (+2.1%), the Portland area (+1.3%), and the Oregon Coast (+1.2%) also added jobs. Eastern Oregon had no growth over the past year.

To learn more about the employment situation for your county, click here. To see the full press release, click here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Oregon’s Low Unemployment Rate Continues in April

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in March and April. For 16 consecutive months, the rate has been close to 4.1 percent, its lowest level since comparable records began in 1976. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent in April, from 4.1 percent in March.

In April, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 2,900 jobs, following a revised gain of 5,000 jobs in March. This was Oregon’s first monthly job decline in 16 months. The last decline was in December 2016.

In April, three major industries declined by more than 1,000 jobs. Retail trade dropped by 2,500 jobs, following a gain of 2,400 in March. Health care and social assistance cut 1,400 jobs in April following a gain of 800 during the prior two months. Professional and business services declined by 1,100 jobs and is now down 2,200 since its peak of 244,900 jobs in November 2017.

Meanwhile, seven of Oregon’s major industries added jobs in April, led by leisure and hospitality (+600 jobs) and construction (+500).

Over the past few years Oregon’s economy gradually decelerated, from very rapid growth a few years ago, to moderate growth over the past year. In the past 12 months 29,600 jobs were added, which is a gain of 1.6 percent. This rate of growth is a slowdown from the more rapid expansion during the prior few years when Oregon’s job gains peaked in mid-2015 at 3.7 percent.

Oregon’s annual job gains have been above 1.6 percent since March 2013. Oregon had been adding jobs at a faster pace than the U.S., but now is growing jobs at the same pace as the nation, since U.S. jobs also expanded by 1.6 percent during the past 12 months.

Read the full press release here.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fun Facts About Mother's Day

This past Sunday, May 13th, was Mother's Day. To celebrate the mothers in our lives, here are some fun facts about the day!

Anna Jarvis organized the first Mother’s Day observances in Grafton, West Virginia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 10, 1908. As the annual celebration became popular around the country, Jarvis became the driving force behind Mother’s Day and asked members of Congress to set aside a day to honor mothers. She succeeded in 1914, when Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

The number of women ages 15 to 50 in Oregon who had given birth in the past 12 months in 2016.

The number of women in the labor force ages 15 to 50 in Oregon who had given birth in the past 12 months in 2016.

The number of Oregonians employed in the child day care services industry in 2014.

Oliver and Olivia
The top two names in Oregon for children born in 2016.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Oregon’s Wage Growth Stuck in Neutral

Oregon’s economy has shown strong employment growth in recent years. That strong growth has caused the state’s labor market to tighten up, as record low unemployment rates have Oregon employers increasingly finding it difficult to fill job openings. Oregon’s average hourly wage, after more than five years of decline and stagnation following The Great Recession, finally started to show fast wage growth in both 2015 and 2016. However, as Oregon’s employment growth showed signs of slowing in 2017, Oregon’s average hourly wage followed suit, with wage growth slowing to a grinding halt beginning in the second quarter of 2017 and continuing through the first quarter of 2018. Nationally, it has been a similar story with recent wage growth. Real average hourly earnings nationally increased only 0.4 percent from March 2017 to March 2018.
Economists have a number of theories as to what has caused wage growth to slow recently, but there isn’t a “silver bullet” answer to the slowing growth.

The aging of our workforce is at least partly responsible for the slowing. Many Baby Boomers continue to reach retirement age; retiring out of what are typically close to peak earnings years for most workers. At the other end of the age spectrum are young Oregonians new to the labor force. When inexperienced workers enter the labor force, they typically earn lower wages than workers with more experience. Labor force participation for Oregon’s youth has been on a fairly sharp decline since 2000, and that decline in participation accelerated during The Great Recession. The labor force participation rate for Oregonians youth (ages 16 to 24) jumped from 54.9 percent in 2016 to 60.6 percent in 2017. Looking at older Oregonians; the participation rate for Oregonians ages 55 and over declined from 40.3 percent in 2016 to 38.9 percent in 2017. The increasing labor force participation among youth is certainly welcome news, but it also a factor tempering Oregon’s average hourly wage growth.

Whatever are the causes of the slowing growth in Oregon’s average hourly wage, we have certainly seen real wage growth slow in Oregon and nationally over the past year.

This article was written by Pat O'Connor, regional economist for Benton, Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties and was originally published on

Monday, May 7, 2018

Employment in the Oregon's Fishing Industry

Oregon’s commercial fishing industry fell to about an average level in 2017. Harvests have been averaging $147 million (2017 dollars) per year since 2010 – after adjusting for inflation. Total landed value was $144 million in 2017. This was down from $152 million in 2016. The decrease was mainly due to the drop in the pink shrimp harvest, and the salmon harvest also fell. The pacific whiting (hake) harvest rose, and the crab and groundfish harvest also increased in 2017. Other fisheries combined for a modest decrease. Overall revenue dropped even though landed volume was up for the year.

There were an estimated 1,330 commercial fishers in Oregon on an annual average basis in 2017. This was down from 1,438 in 2016 and was not too surprising given the decrease in harvests.

Estimating employment in fishing is more difficult than measuring the harvests. Legislation in 1999 allowed most fishermen to be exempt from unemployment insurance coverage – the primary source of employment data. The Oregon Employment Department now estimates the number of fishers based on a combination of survey data and the number of commercial fish landings made. This method was new for 2014 and resulted in a lower employment estimate than before.

The estimated number of fishers varied from a high of 1,784 in July to a low of 520 in November. Five coastal counties – Clatsop, Lincoln, Coos, Curry, and Tillamook – had 96 percent of the total employment, based on where landings occur. Perhaps even more surprising is that some interior counties, such as Jefferson and Washington, had any commercial fishing employment. These jobs are often based on crayfish harvests. The most important fisheries for employment are crab, salmon, and albacore tuna. Commercial fishers harvested more than 100 different species in 2017.
To learn more about the commercial fishing landings and revenue, read the full article "Oregon’s Commercial Fishing in 2017" by Regional Economist Erik Knoder

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Oregon’s 2017 Natural Population Increase Was the Lowest on Record

In 2017, Oregon’s population increased by 64,750 to 4,141,100. This marked growth of 1.6 percent over the year, and growth of 8.1 percent since the 2010 Census. There are two main reasons that lead to population change. First, an area increases in population if more births than deaths occur in a given year or vice versa. Second, population can increase or decrease through net migration. That is, over the year, people either move into or out of an area. A positive value of net migration means more people moving into an area than leaving it, while a negative value of net migration indicates more people leaving an area than moving in.

In 2017, natural increase contributed 7,900 to population growth, which was the lowest since comparable records began in 1960. The low natural increase is caused by an increase of the number of deaths (36,800), which was the highest since 1960. Since 2011, Oregon had a relatively low natural increase relative to the prior four decades.

Oregon Continues to Attract Migrants

A lot of Oregon’s population increase in 2017 was due to net migration, which at 56,800 people was the largest net migration since 1991.

Over the past 20 years, Oregon had an average net migration of 27,800 people per year. The lowest number of net migrants over the last 20 years was 7,000 in 2010. In general, we see net migrants increase as the economy expands and more jobs become available. Notice that prior to the Great Recession, net migration was booming in Oregon. As the recession hit, people became less mobile. This, combined with Oregon experiencing a deeper recession than the nation as a whole, brought net migration to its lowest levels since the 1980s.

To learn about population growth in metro areas, read Economist Felicia Bechtoldt's full article.