Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Oregon Adds 14,700 Jobs in December

In December, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by 14,700 jobs, following a revised loss of 300 jobs in November. Monthly gains were concentrated in two industries that bounced back from weaker hiring patterns in the summer, as leisure and hospitality added 4,400 jobs in December and professional and business services added 3,000. Three other industries added at least 1,000 jobs in December: manufacturing (+2,400 jobs), construction (+1,600), and health care and social assistance (+1,000). No major industry cut jobs substantially in December.

Since December 2016, total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 48,400 jobs, or 2.6 percent. This is near the rate of growth experienced throughout 2016 and well into mid-2017. While the jobs reports in late 2017, which covered the August through November data, were indicating a slowdown in Oregon’s economic expansion, the strong jobs reading in December reflects a return to robust growth.

Over the most recent 12 months, gains were most rapid in construction, which added 8,800 jobs, or 9.4 percent. Next in line was leisure and hospitality (+8,900 jobs, or 4.4%), followed closely by private educational services (+1,400 jobs, or 4.0%). Several major industries expanded by close to 3 percent: health care and social assistance (+7,200 jobs, or 3.1%), financial activities (+2,900 jobs, or 3.0%), and professional and business services (+6,600 jobs, or 2.8%). Meanwhile, only two industries changed employment over the year by less than 1 percent: government (+2,300 jobs, or 0.7%) and wholesale trade (-200 jobs, or -0.3%).

Oregon’s unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.1 percent in December from 4.2 percent in November. Oregon’s unemployment rate was the same as the U.S. unemployment rate, which was also 4.1 percent in December. The state’s annual average unemployment rate for 2017 was 4.0 percent, which was Oregon’s lowest annual average unemployment rate since comparable records began in 1976. Oregon’s second-lowest annual average unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, which was reached in 2016 and 1995.

You can find more press release documents on

Thursday, January 11, 2018

2017 in Review: Job Growth Slows as Unemployment Reaches Record Low

Oregon’s job growth slowed in 2017 to its slowest rate in five years. The slowdown wasn’t caused by employers needing fewer workers. This slowdown seems to be the result of employers struggling to find enough workers to fill their vacancies, which is limiting the amount of job growth.

Oregon employers added a healthy 50,600 jobs in the 12 months through June, before slowing down later in the year. The 30,600 new jobs added from November 2016 to November 2017 were the fewest jobs added since 2012.

Oregon’s over-the-year growth rate of 1.7 percent was slower than the historical average and just the ninth fastest growth since 2000. That is noticeably slower than the previous two years of 2.8 percent in 2016 and 3.4 percent in 2015.
The jobs added in 2017 were not just low-paying jobs. On the contrary, a mix of industries paying lower-, middle-, and higher-average wages contributed to overall job growth. This means the average real hourly wage of Oregon’s workers continued to rise. Now reaching $25.90 per hour, the average real hourly wage in 2017 was the highest it’s been in recent years. But the rate of wage gains was slower than the year before.

Oregon’s unemployment rate was in record low territory for all of 2017. It reached a low of 3.6 percent in May 2017, before drifting up to 4.2 percent by November. The annual average unemployment rate for the year will be the lowest on record.

Read more about 2017's labor trends in the "Year in Review" article, written by State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Oregon Business Employment Dynamics Report: First Quarter 2017

Establishments with job gains added 108,577 jobs to the Oregon economy while establishments with job losses reduced employment by 89,507 jobs during the first quarter of 2017. Expanding establishments added 90,747 jobs in the first quarter of 2017 and that expansion exceeded the 75,212 jobs lost due to contracting establishments by 15,535. Opening establishments gained 17,830 jobs which was 3,535 more than the 14,295 jobs lost due to establishments going out of business. The result of the combined jobs gained and lost was an overall increase of 19,070 jobs.

The seasonally adjusted number of Oregon establishments gaining jobs increased by 1,949 (growing from 31,766 to 33,715). At the same time, the number of establishments losing jobs decreased by 1,505 declining from 30,699 to 29,164 establishments. The number of establishments that opened (6,439) was greater than the number of establishments that closed (5,100) resulting in a net establishment gain of 1,339.
Industry sectors posting job gains included: retail trade (3,376), professional and business services (2,278), construction (3,236), education and health services (4,114), leisure and hospitality (2,129), manufacturing (388), wholesale trade (451), financial activities (551), and information (206). Only transportation and warehousing (-716) had fewer jobs in the first quarter of 2017 than during the prior quarter.

Coming out of the Great Recession, total private-sector employment in the retail sector hit a low level of 177,265 employees during the first quarter of 2010. Since then, total retail employment and the net change in employment (gross job gains minus gross job losses) have seen a slow but steady pattern of net job gains. Between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, gross job losses of 10,038 due to business closings and contractions were more than offset by new business openings and existing business expansions of 13,414 jobs, for a net gain of 3,376 jobs.

This article was originally written by Ken Lux, the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Coordinator. A more detailed listing of Oregon Business Employment Dynamics data, statewide (all industries) and statewide (by industry sector), is available at on the Publications page in the Reports & Analysis box.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Highest-Paying Industries in Oregon: Six Industries that Offer Six Figure Incomes

The average annual wage in Oregon in 2016 was $49,467. However, a handful of large industries pay about twice that much to their employees. These are sectors of the economy where businesses pay very well and employ workers with a high level of technical skills. 

High wages are not the only thing these firms have to offer. All of these industries have enjoyed job growth in Oregon over the last seven years, though the utilities, high-tech manufacturing, and financial industries have grown relatively slowly, while the software and management of companies sectors have experienced rapid job growth.

Software and Computer Systems Design 

There are two related industries that have enjoyed the fastest job growth among high wage sectors: software and computer systems design. The 27,900 workers in these industries earned an average mean wage of $103,445 in 2016. 

The bulk of the employment here is in occupations with high annual wages: software developers ($99,670), database administrators ($84,540), and computer programmers ($77,780). Some of the higher-wage occupations include computer network architects ($121,250) and information research scientists ($154,220).

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this sector is its rapid employment growth. From 2010 to 2017, employment grew by an impressive 46 percent in Oregon. It’s also worth noting that 60 percent of employment here is in just two Portland area counties – Multnomah and Washington.


There are 8,920 workers employed at one of the more than 400 utilities in Oregon. In 2016, these workers earned an average wage of $87,456. Most of these utilities are small and publicly owned. Some of the larger utilities in Oregon include: Portland General Electric, Northwest Natural Gas, and the Bonneville Power Administration.

About half of all employment in Oregon utilities is in private-sector firms with the rest in federal and local government. The private side of the utility sector is growing relatively slowly in Oregon with a gain of just 300 jobs in the last seven years. The represents a growth rate of less than half of the overall Oregon economy.

Maintaining utility infrastructure requires highly technical skills. Some of the most common occupations in utilities pay high annual wages to folks with the appropriate skills: electrical power-line installers and repairers ($89,300), power plant operators ($74,570), electrical engineers ($92,380), and electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay ($83,990).

Learn more about the other four high-paying industries in the full article "The Highest-Paying Industries in Oregon: Six Industries that Offer Six Figure Incomes" by Workforce Analyst Christian Kaylor

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Holiday Season Fun Facts

This festive season, or simply the holidays, is a time for gathering and celebrating with family and friends, gift-giving, reflection and thanks. To commemorate this time of year, we present the following holiday-related facts and figures from the U.S. Census Bureau's collection of statistics. Happy holidays!

$22.7 billion
The estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2016. A decrease of $1.0 billion in retail sales from December of the previous year.

The estimated percentage of jewelry store total sales in 2016 that took place in December.

The December sales accounted for hobby, toy, and game stores in 2016.

The number of locations in Oregon that primarily produced dolls, toys, and games in 2015. California led the nation with 90 establishments.

The total number of Oregon workers (Santa's elves?) employed at the businesses primarily producing dolls, toys, and games in Oregon in 2015.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Facts for Features.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

November 2017 Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 3.2 percent in November 2017. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in November include Hood River (3.5%), Washington (3.6%), and Wheeler (3.6%).

Eastern and Southern Oregon had higher unemployment rates in November 2017, which were still closer to their record low unemployment rates since 1990. Curry and Harney counties have registered the highest unemployment rates for the month at 6.4 percent.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in all of Oregon’s six broad regions between November 2016 and November 2017. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (+2.4%). Portland (+2.2%), the Willamette Valley (+2.1%), Southern Oregon (+1.7%), Eastern Oregon (+1.1%), and the Oregon Coast (+0.7%) also saw growth.

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Was 4.2 Percent in November, as Job Growth Slowed

Oregon’s unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.2 percent in November from 4.3 percent in October, remaining near the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.1 percent in November.

“Oregon’s low unemployment rate and other positive labor force measures indicate there’s a shrinking pool of available job seekers,” said Nick Beleiciks, Oregon’s state employment economist. “Businesses are having difficulty finding applicants, and that has slowed Oregon’s job growth in the second half of this year.”

In November, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 1,800 jobs, following a revised gain of 7,900 jobs in October. Monthly losses were concentrated in professional and business services, which cut 2,000 jobs, and in manufacturing, which cut 1,700. Counterbalancing these job losses were gains of 1,300 in other services and 1,200 in leisure and hospitality.

The job losses in November, coupled with the downward revision to October, slowed the pace of Oregon’s over-the-year growth rate. Since November 2016, Oregon has added 30,600 nonfarm payroll jobs, which equals an annual growth rate of 1.7 percent. Oregon is now gaining jobs at a slightly faster pace than the national growth rate of 1.4 percent over the past 12 months. This is a change after a long stretch of growth that far outpaced the national growth rate.

Read the Oregon Employment Department's full press release.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Most Oregon Employers Have Fewer than 20 Employees

Nine out of 10 private-sector firms in Oregon had fewer than 20 employees in March 2017. Six out of 10 employed fewer than five. Despite their quantity, smaller firms collectively account for a much smaller share of overall employment than their larger counterparts. For example, the 59.4 percent of firms with one to four employees represented 7.5 percent of covered employment and 6.3 percent of wages in March 2017. On the other hand, the 0.3 percent of firms with at least 500 employees accounted for 26.8 percent of private-sector jobs and 35.3 percent of wages.

These distributions tend to remain stable from one year to the next, even as the overall number of firms, employees, and wages expands or contracts. This doesn’t mean that smaller firms are underperforming when it comes to job creation, or that larger firms are experiencing a bonanza. Size of firm data does not provide us with information about the dynamics of job growth. Instead, it offers a snapshot that can help us understand the roles of small and large firms in Oregon’s economy at a specific point in time.
This article was written by economist Felicia Bechtoldt and was originally published on

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Occupations with the Most Jobs Paying Less Than $11.25 per Hour

Oregon’s minimum wage levels were set by Senate Bill 1532 in 2016. The minimum wage increases on July 1 each year through 2022. There are three tiers of step increases based on geography. Oregon’s most recent minimum wage increase came on July 1, 2017, but the raises weren’t the same across the state. Minimum wage increased to $11.25 per hour inside the Portland urban growth boundary, $10.00 per hour in nonurban counties, and $10.25 in other areas of the state.

Minimum wage jobs are more common in some types of work. There are around 290,700 jobs in Oregon that pay $11.25 per hour or less. This represents 16 percent of all Oregon jobs.

There are three occupations that employ more than 20,000 workers with wages below $11.25 per hour. These occupations are cashiers, retail salespersons, and combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food. Waiters and waitresses were the fourth highest occupation, with 19,237 workers making this hourly rate or less.

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers have the largest percentage of their total occupational employment making $11.25 per hour or less, with 78 percent of the jobs below this threshold.

Employers are asked to report tips and gratuities in occupational and payroll tax wage reports. Tipped jobs that pay minimum wage can exceed the $11.25 per hour level once tips are included, and those jobs would be counted in a higher wage category.
This article was written by economist Anna Johnson and was originally published on 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Characteristics of the Foreign-Born Population Working in Oregon

Roughly 10 percent (or 389,000) of Oregon’s population consists of people born outside the U.S. Of the foreign-born population in Oregon, roughly 367,000 are age 16 or older, and about 233,000 are employed. Foreign-born workers make up 13 percent of the state's civilian employed population. Almost half (46%) of Oregon's foreign-born population is native to Latin America, while 30 percent comes from Asia, another 15 percent is native to Europe, and 9 percent were born elsewhere outside the U.S.

Foreign-born workers tend to be more concentrated in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry, as well as manufacturing. About one out of 10 foreign-born workers can be found in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, or mining, and about one-fifth (18%) work in manufacturing. By comparison, 3 percent of the employed native-born population work in agriculture and related industries, and 10 percent work in manufacturing. Those born outside the U.S. are slightly less likely to be found in educational services or health care (17%) than Oregon workers born in the U.S. (24%).

To learn how much foreign-born workers earn relative to native-born workers, read Senior Economic Analyst Gail Krumenauer's full article.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Oregon Careers Magazine Available at No Cost

We have recently released our Oregon Careers 2018 magazine aimed at the career planning needs of students. It contains information about how to select and prepare for a career. You can order hard copies of this magazine in English at no charge by filling an order form at or contacting (503) 947-1204.

The Spanish edition, Carreras en Oregon 2018, will be available online in early 2018 in the “Careers” section of

Careers magazine has an Activity Guide and a Teacher's Guide to the Activity Guide. The Activity Guide is an excellent tool to help students explore the magazine. It contains activities and exercises tied to sections in the magazine. The Teacher's Guide contains the answers to the exercises in the Activity Guide.

To learn more about other publications you can order, click on and see the "Posters & Brochures", "Occupations in Demand" and "STEM" sections.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

‘Tis the Season for Courier and Messenger Delivery Services

Even before the turkey hits the table, retailers and e-tailers alike work to entice holiday shoppers with deals. Whether bought in a store or fulfilled online, many seasonal gifts make their way to friends and family through delivery services.

The private couriers and messengers subsector shows a distinctive seasonal pattern. Over the past decade, couriers and messengers establishments have ramped up hiring in the fourth quarter, hitting an employment peak in December each year. In the past few years, December job totals have averaged 2,500 above annual employment. After the flurry of holiday deliveries, sector employment winds down and generally hits a low in either April or July.

The seasonal swing in employment became more pronounced from 2006 to 2016. The difference between peak (December) employment and the lowest employment month in the same year generally ranged between 1,200 and 1,700 jobs from 2006 to 2012. In 2013, the seasonal swing in payroll employment rose to 2,000, and continued to grow to 3,000 in 2014 and 2015. By 2016, the difference between monthly job highs and lows totaled 3,700.
Read more about couriers and messengers employment in the full article by Senior Economic Analyst Gail Krumenauer.