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Monday, June 7, 2021

Oregon Construction Employment Near Record Highs

Oregon’s construction industry reached near a record high number of jobs in recent months, employing approximately 110,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The industry bounced back quickly from the COVID recession in which it spiked down to about 100,000 jobs in April 2020. Prior to that, the industry added jobs steadily and rapidly during 2013 through 2019, following a prolonged slump in 2009 through 2012, when employment remained near 70,000 for several years after the 2008-09 recession.

Looking back more than 30 years, clearly the industry has been highly cyclical – experiencing booms and busts over the course of multi-year expansions that were followed by briefer, but potentially precipitous contractions.

In the late 1990s the industry hovered close to 80,000 jobs for several years, dropped some jobs in a mild recession and then resumed its climb. Just before the 2008 recession, Oregon’s construction industry was slightly below today’s employment total, at about 104,000 jobs.

Housing Starts Increasing But Still  Well Below Historical Highs

One of the reasons that the economic expansion between 2013 and 2019 – both in Oregon and at the national level – was so long and persistent was due to the pattern of housing starts. In the several years immediately following the 2008-09 recession, building permits and housing starts were very low by historic standards. The low level of residential construction activity and spending was a limiting factor for economic growth, given that new-home building is a major component of change in the overall dollar value of economic activity for a region. In Oregon, residential building permits (single-family and multi-family combined) stagnated near an average monthly rate of 600 during 2009 through 2011, but have since climbed to the current rate averaging close to 1,600 per month over the past five plus years. Despite the near-tripling of monthly housing permits in the timespan, we’re still well below peak levels seen during several periods during the 1990s and mid-2000s, not to mention the house-building boom in the late 1970s, when building permit activity was double the current level.

To learn more, read Current Employment Statistics Coordinator David Cooke's full article.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Diversity Among Asian and Pacific Islanders in Oregon

May is national Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Here are some facts about the diverse Asian, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander communities in Oregon.

Oregon's Asian, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander populations are diverse, young, and growing. In 2019, there were an estimated 246,789 Oregon residents who identified as Asian and 34,407 who identified as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander alone or in combination with one or more other races. 66,200 people in Oregon identified as Asian in combination with one or more other races on average from 2015 to 2019 or 27% of all people of Asian heritage in the state. 

Taking a closer look at the Asian alone population, nearly one out of four people were of Chinese ancestry (24%), followed by those of Vietnamese (17%), Indian (14%), and Filipino (11%) ancestry. More than half (52%) of Oregon’s Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander population also identified as being one or more other races. Looking at more detailed breakouts for the 16,625 who identified as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander alone, roughly one out of four (24%) are Native Hawaiian, 11% are of Guamanian or Chamorro ancestry, and another 10% are Samoan. More than half (55%) are of some other Pacific Islander ancestry.
Two out of three of Oregon’s Asian alone residents (65%) and one out of three Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders (33%) were foreign born on average from 2015 to 2019. This compares with 10% of all Oregonians. Those born outside of the United States who move here come for a variety of reasons including higher education, work, marriage, and safety reasons. Seven out of ten (69%) of the state’s Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander alone population speak a language other than English, most often in addition to English, and roughly 28% have limited English speaking proficiency.

Asian and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander populations have grown much faster in Oregon than the state’s overall population (9.8%) from 2010 to 2019, growing by 33.3% and 37.4% respectively. From 2015 to 2019, the median age for all who identified as Asian alone in Oregon was 36.6 years compared with to 39.3 years for all Oregonians. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders had a median age of 30.2 years during this same period.

There is much diversity among the growing Asian and Pacific Islander populations in Oregon, and specific groups may have their own socioeconomic needs. More detailed research about these communities will be published on QualityInfo.org in the coming days.





Tuesday, May 25, 2021

April 2021 Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

 In April 2021, 19 out of 36 of Oregon’s counties experienced over-the-month increases in their unemployment rates. Curry and Morrow counties saw the largest over-the-month increase at 0.3 percentage points each in April. Nine counties experienced decreases in their unemployment rates over the month, and eight counties experienced no change in their unemployment rates.

Lincoln County had Oregon’s highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April at 8.3%. Other counties with some of the highest unemployment rates included Curry (7.9%), Grant (7.7%), Crook (7.6%), and Klamath (7.6%) counties. 

Wheeler County registered the lowest unemployment rate for the month at 3.3%. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in April were Benton (4.7%) and Sherman (5.0%) counties. Sixteen counties had unemployment rates at or below the nationwide rate of 6.1%. Thirteen counties also had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 6.0%.



Total nonfarm payroll employment increased in all six of Oregon’s broad regions between April 2020 and April 2021. This reflects the recovery period since employment in Oregon hit its lowest levels in the current pandemic recession. Most areas still have room to recover from pandemic job losses; the state has now recovered 59% of jobs lost in March and April 2020. The largest job increases since April 2020 occurred in the Coast (17.3%). Central (15.5%), Southern (10.2%), and Willamette Valley (8.2%) also experienced large over-the-year employment increases. Eastern Oregon and the Portland-5 regions added 8.0% and 6.7%, respectively.


Next News Releases

The Oregon Employment Department will release statewide unemployment rate and industry employment data for May 2021 on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. The May 2021 county and metropolitan area unemployment rates will be released on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.  



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Oregon Job Growth Slowed to 2,200 in April

Hiring in Oregon slowed significantly in April. Total nonfarm payrolls added 2,200 jobs, following a revised gain of 19,600 in March. Oregon's unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.0%.

Job growth also slowed nationwide in April, and the U.S. unemployment rate was 6.1%. Oregon has regained 59% of the jobs lost in spring 2020, compared with 63% for the U.S.

April job gains in Oregon were largest in government, which added 2,300 jobs as many K-12 schools moved from fully remote to partially in-person instruction. Leisure and hospitality added 2,000 jobs over the month. Monthly declines were largest in manufacturing, which dropped by 900 jobs.

Although Oregon's unemployment rate hit a stand-still in April, underlying labor force dynamics continued to shift. April marked the first month since the pandemic recession started that those experiencing permanent job losses were the largest group of laid off Oregonians. At the height of the pandemic shutdowns a year ago, nine out of 10 layoffs were temporary. 

More information about Oregon's employment situation is available in the full news release, or in the monthly video summary.


Monday, April 26, 2021

Why Oregon's Labor Market is Tighter Than You Think

We've been hearing more in recent days about employers' challenges finding workers. Over the past week, we've teamed up with the Office of Economic Analysis to publish a summary of reasons Oregon's labor market is tighter than you might think.

The pandemic recession -- just like all economic downturns -- is unique. During this recovery labor demand remains strong. At the same time, several simultaneous factors are constraining the supply of labor for those job openings. They include:

1. Concentrated Nature of the Shock
Last spring, many businesses with similar labor pools shut down overnight. The economy experienced record-setting job losses and the unemployment rate increased nearly 10 percentage points in April 2020 alone. Those who remain unemployed are also largely on temporary layoff. In the previous recessions, the job losses were largely permanent, and the economic nadir did not occur until more than two years into each cycle, so businesses hiring during the recession and recovery had excess labor supply for a while. During this recovery the jobless numbers have dropped much faster.

Oregon’s unemployment rate matched the nation’s at 6.0% in March, below the average of 6.8% over the past two decades. Currently, hiring employers are facing a typical or slightly lower-than-typical available labor pool for their job openings. The available labor force is not evenly distributed either. While all sectors lost jobs in the initial COVID downturn, some have bounced back rapidly or hit new employment highs (such as transportation, warehousing and utilities, and professional and technical services). Depending upon the types of jobs employers are hiring for, there may be no excess labor. 

2. Pandemic Concerns
The unemployment rate doesn’t include would-be workers who are out of the labor force, meaning they neither have a job, nor are they looking for one. Supplemental information from households in the Current Population Survey shows an estimated 45,000 people in Oregon said they were prevented from looking for work due to COVID-related reasons during the first quarter of 2021. While vaccinations have accelerated, only about half the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose for COVID-19 as of mid-April. COVID case counts are also rising in many areas of Oregon again this spring.

3. Lack of In-Person Schooling
Heading into the pandemic, one out of every six Oregonians in the labor force had kids, worked in an occupation that cannot be done remotely, and also did not have another non-working adult present in the household, according to research from the Office of Economic Analysis. As of mid-April, three-fourths of Oregon’s K-12 schools have students learning remotely from home either part- or full-time, according to Oregon Department of Education records.

Even with the anticipated return of full-time, in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year, child care slots, which were already too scarce in most areas of the state prior to the pandemic, and summer programs will likely continue operating with reduced capacity for some time. These constraints limit workforce options for some parents of younger children.

4. Federal Aid and Unemployment Benefits
Total personal income in Oregon today is about 15% higher than before the pandemic. Strong federal fiscal policy response via recovery rebates alone added $12 billion to personal income in Oregon. Although this has brightened the overall economic outlook, a stronger safety net where incomes are higher today than pre-COVID can temporarily reduce labor force participation in the short term for some workers. 

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) adds $300 onto weekly unemployment insurance benefits through September 4, 2021. In the first quarter of 2021, the weekly regular unemployment (UI) benefit has averaged $370 per week. With the additional $300 FPUC payment, that adds up to an average payment of $670 per week. That’s roughly the same as earning $16.75 per hour for someone working full time. During the first quarter of 2021, that has also represented full wage replacement (between 100% and 104%) relative to regular UI claimants’ pre-pandemic earnings on the job. 

Some perspective here: earning $670 per week, working year round would total $34,800 in gross earnings for a worker. By comparison, the median earnings for full-time workers in Oregon in 2019 was $50,712. With “Now Hiring” signs in many business windows and stronger wage offerings as employers compete for available workers, it’s unlikely that this benefit, in itself, is keeping a vast number of workers on the sidelines.

Furthermore, unemployed workers cannot refuse job offers or a recall to their previous job (if temporarily laid off) because of their unemployment benefit amount. Refusing work solely due to weekly unemployment benefit payments would be considered fraud. The Employment Department provides ways to report job refusals.

Last but not least, Oregon has a long-running record of adding labor force through net in-migration of workers from other states and areas. While Oregon continued to attract migrants in 2020, net migration fell to its lowest level since 2013 in Oregon, and was 20% lower at 28,600 than in 2019.  

More information on Oregon's current labor market dynamics can be found in the full article and OEA blog post, written by State Economist Josh Lehner and State Employment Economist Gail Krumenauer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Oregon’s 2020 Natural Population Increase Was the Lowest on Record

In 2020, Oregon’s population increased by 31,655 to 4,268,055. This marked growth of 0.7% over the year and growth of 11.4% since the 2010 Census. Portland State University’s Population Research Center recently released more detailed information on why this population growth has occurred.

Two things lead to population change. First, an area increases in population if more births than deaths occur in a given year. 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 2020, 90% of Oregon's population increase was due to net migration. Natural increase contributed just 3,100 to population growth, which was the lowest since comparable records began in 1960. The low natural increase is caused by an increase in the number of deaths (37,800), which was the highest total since 1960. In 2018 and 2019, there were 36,600 deaths in Oregon each year. Since 2011, Oregon had a relatively low natural increase compared with the prior four decades.


While Oregon continued to attract migrants in 2020, net migration was 20% lower at 28,600 than it was in 2019. The number of net migrants has been dropping steadily over the past few years since 2017, likely driven by a slower growing economy towards the end of the last economic expansion and housing availability and affordability. The current economic crisis driven by public health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to continued declines in net migration in 2020.

To learn more, read Economist Sarah Cunningham's full article here

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

March 2021 Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

In March 2021, 24 out of 36 of Oregon’s counties experienced over-the-month decreases in their unemployment rates. Clatsop and Union counties saw the largest over-the-month decrease, declining 0.9 percentage point each in March.

Lincoln County had Oregon’s highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March at 8.0%. Other counties with some of the highest unemployment rates included Grant (7.5%), Curry (7.4%), Coos (7.3%), and Crook (7.3%) counties. 

Wheeler County registered the lowest unemployment rate for the month at 3.8%. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in March were Malheur (4.4%) and Sherman (4.6%) counties. Eighteen counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 6.0%. Eighteen counties also had unemployment rates at or below the nationwide rate of 6.0%.


Total nonfarm payroll employment declined in all six of Oregon’s broad regions between March 2020 and March 2021. The largest job losses occurred in the Portland-5 (-7.8%). The Coast (-6.3%), the Willamette Valley (-5.8%), and Central Oregon (-3.6%) also experienced large over-the-year employment losses. Southern Oregon and Eastern Oregon dropped 3.0% and 2.3%, respectively.


Next News Releases

The Oregon Employment Department will release statewide unemployment rate and industry employment data for April 2021 on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The April 2021 county and metropolitan area unemployment rates will be released on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.  

Read the original press release here. 









Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Oregon Adds 20,100 Jobs in March

Nonfarm payroll employment rose 20,100 jobs in March, following a gain of 15,300, as revised, in February. Two-thirds of all the jobs gained in March were in leisure and hospitality (+13,900 jobs). Three other major industries each added more than 1,000 jobs: manufacturing (+2,000 jobs); professional and business services (+1,300); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+1,100). Construction and private educational services each added 700 jobs. All other major industries performed close to their normal seasonal patterns. 

The 20,100 total nonfarm jobs added in March was Oregon’s largest monthly gain since 38,300 jobs were added in July. March’s gain was the third monthly increase, following a large drop in December that was the result of temporary, heightened restrictions at the time. In March, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment totaled 1,840,600, a drop of 132,400 jobs, or 6.7% from the pre-recession peak in February 2020. Oregon’s employment dropped to a low of 1,687,500 by April 2020. Since then, Oregon has recovered 153,100 jobs, or 54% of the jobs lost between February and April 2020. 

Oregon’s unemployment rate edged down to 6.0% in March, from 6.1% in February. For the past three months, Oregon’s unemployment rate has ticked down by a tenth of a point each month. During the past 11 months the pace of recovery in Oregon’s unemployment rate has mirrored the national experience. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 6.0% in March, from 6.2% in February.


 Read the full press release here

Monday, April 12, 2021

Oregon's Per Capita Personal Income Increased in 2020

Preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis' March 2021 News Release show Oregon’s per capita personal income (PCPI)--a measure of total income in the state from net earnings, transfer receipts, and dividends, interest, and rent, divided by the state's population--increased by 6.7% over-the-year in 2020 to $56,765. National PCPI increased by 5.8% to $59,729 during the same period. Large over-the-year increases in PCPI were driven by large increases in personal current transfer receipts, primarily through the $1.1 trillion in national CARES Act government relief payments.

As of 2020, Oregon’s PCPI relative to the nation increased to 95.0% of U.S. PCPI. Slightly larger over-the-year increases in transfer receipts (+37.3% for Oregon vs +36.6% for the U.S.) and net earnings (+0.7% vs. +0.3%) and a smaller over-the-year decrease in dividends, interest, and rent (-0.8% vs. -1.1%) all contributed to Oregon’s relative increase in PCPI.

Oregon's PCPI ranks 23rd in the nation. Connecticut has the nation's highest PCPI at $79,771, or 134% of national PCPI. Mississippi ranks last among the states at $41,745, or 70% of national PCPI.

Monday, April 5, 2021

COVID-19 Impacts on Oregon’s Breweries and Pubs

Last year was difficult for many types of businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered the way we engage the economy. Breweries and brewpubs had been posting slower rates of growth before the onset of the pandemic, but the closure of in-person dining dealt a blow to demand for kegs and employment within the pubs themselves.

In the summer of 2019 there were roughly 9,090 jobs in brewing establishments across the state of Oregon. A brewing establishment is any location that brews beer. A portion of these are manufacturing facilities that produce their beer to be distributed to retailers or restaurants. However, many of the state’s brewing establishments are brewpubs that both brew beer and serve that beer onsite in a more typical restaurant environment.

The dramatic impacts of the pandemic were first seen in second quarter 2020 when covered employment dropped by a staggering 3,500 jobs (-43%) from levels in the first quarter. The drop is even more shocking when you consider the highly seasonal nature of the industry. Typically the spring (second quarter) is a time of hiring for breweries and pubs, which means the loss of 43% of total employment from the first quarter undercounts the true impact to the industry.

As with the economy more broadly, there was an initial V-shaped recovery to employment last summer in Oregon’s brewing industry with these pubs and breweries adding back around 1,950 of the 3,500 jobs lost in the spring of 2020. Even with this sharp rebound in the third quarter, employment in breweries still remained down by around 29% from levels in 2019. As you might expect, the COVID impacts to the brewing industry were much more significant than to the overall economy, but job losses were even more significant than food services and drinking places, where employment was down by 23% from last year.
Despite the challenges faced in 2020, there is reason for optimism as we move further into 2021. The worst of the pandemic is already behind us with case counts dropping dramatically, hospitalization rates down, and vaccine rollout accelerating. Vaccines are expected to be widely available to the general public by late spring, which should lead to fewer public health restrictions and consumers feeling more comfortable going out to public places such as brewpubs. Combine the “opening” of the economy with the large savings rate and we will likely see a dramatic increase in spending at restaurants. More people in restaurants means more people drinking Oregon beer.

To learn more, read Regional Economist Damon Runberg's full article here

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

From Peak to Pandemic: 2020 in Review

Oregon’s longest post-WW II economic expansion came to a dramatic end in 2020. The cumulative devastation Oregonians faced in their lives and their livelihoods throughout 2020 translated to slow recovery from unparalleled job losses.

The pandemic recession had a faster onset with deeper impacts than even the Great Recession. The record-breaking layoffs that occurred in the spring of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic also occurred at breathtaking speed. Oregon lost 285,500 nonfarm payroll jobs from February to April, a decline of 14.5%. By comparison, at the steepest point of decline in the Great Recession, 27 months into the downturn, employment had dropped 8.5% from its peak. 


One distinction of the pandemic recession was that overwhelmingly, those who became unemployed due to job loss were on temporary layoff. At peak unemployment in April 2020, those who lost jobs accounted for 84% of unemployed Oregonians. Among them, 86% were classified as on temporary layoff. That’s quite a reversal from the Great Recession; during its months of highest unemployment, nearly three-fourths (72%) of layoffs were due to permanent job losses.

In addition to those who lost jobs – temporarily or permanently – many more Oregonians found themselves working less than they would have liked in 2020. Oregon’s broadest (“U-6”) measure of labor underutilization hit a series high of 20.9% in April 2020. That means one out of five workers or would-be workers were either out of work, discouraged from looking due to lack of prospects, sought work in the past year but not the past four weeks, or were working fewer hours than they’d like to be scheduled.

Most of those in this expanded measure of labor underutilization were involuntary part-time workers. Between February and May 2020, the number of Oregonians working part-time for economic reasons doubled to 159,700.

Another distinction of the pandemic recession was that, through either federal loans or altered business practices, many Oregon employers were able to keep operating either with fewer workers, or with workers on reduced schedules. Throughout 2020, the number of business establishments overall grew each quarter. Even in leisure and hospitality, the hardest-hit sector that lost half its jobs in spring 2020, the total number of payroll business units remained stable throughout the year. 

Phased re-opening began in Oregon in May, and with it, record-breaking monthly job gains came. Oregon had its largest-ever monthly employment gain in June 2020, adding 52,300 jobs. That momentum was not sustained though; monthly job gains tapered over the summer and into fall Oregon continued to register smaller monthly gains heading into the fall.

As COVID-19 cases also began to rise in the fall, Oregon instituted an initial “two week freeze” that included additional health and safety measures. Subsequent limitations on economic activity to prevent community spread of the disease by county and COVID-19 risk category continued through the rest of 2020 and into 2021.

In December 2020, Oregon lost 27,500 jobs over the month. Absent the pandemic, that December loss would have represented the biggest monthly job decline in Oregon since at least 1990.

In the wake of lower COVID-19 case counts and accelerated vaccine rollout, more areas of the state have moved out of extreme COVID risk categories, and job gains have resumed. Total nonfarm payrolls in Oregon added a combined 20,900 jobs in January and February 2021. The latest forecast from the Office of Economic Analysis predicts stronger growth in 2021 and 2022 than Oregon has seen in decades, and a return to pre-pandemic employment in early 2023. 

Many more details are available in the full year in review article.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

February 2021 Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

In February 2021, 25 out of 36 of Oregon’s counties experienced over-the-month decreases in their unemployment rates. Tillamook and Lincoln counties saw the largest over-the-month decrease, declining 0.5 percentage point each in February.

Clatsop County had Oregon’s highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February at 8.1%. Other counties with some of the highest unemployment rates included Lincoln (8.0%), Crook (8.0%), Curry (7.1%), and Union (7.1%).

Wheeler County registered the lowest unemployment rate for the month at 3.7%. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in February were Sherman (4.1%), Malheur (4.5%), and Lake (4.5%). Nineteen counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 6.1%. Twenty counties also had unemployment rates at or below the nationwide rate of 6.2%.
Total nonfarm payroll employment declined in all six of Oregon’s broad regions between February 2020 and February 2021. The largest job losses occurred in the Portland-5 (-9.6%). The Coast (-7.8%), the Willamette Valley (-7.4%), and Central Oregon (-5.5%) also experienced large over-the-year employment losses. Southern Oregon and Eastern Oregon came in at -4.6% and -2.9%, respectively.
Next News Releases

The Oregon Employment Department will release statewide unemployment rate and industry employment data for March 2021 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. The March 2021 county and metropolitan area unemployment rates will be released on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

Read the original press release here.