Tuesday, November 19, 2019

October 2019 Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 3.3 percent in October 2019. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in October included Hood River (3.4%), Washington (3.4%), and Multnomah (3.5%). These four counties had unemployment rates below the national rate of 3.6 percent. Ten of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 4.1 percent.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in all six of Oregon’s broad regions between October 2018 and October 2019. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (+2.5%). Southern Oregon (+1.1%), the Portland area (+0.9%), the Willamette Valley (+0.8%), the Coast (+0.8%), and Eastern Oregon (+0.5%) also saw employment growth over the past year.

Read the full press release here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Has Stayed Near 4 Percent for Three Years

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in September and October. The rate has been between 4.0 percent and 4.4 percent for an unprecedented 36 consecutive months dating back to November 2016. The U.S. unemployment rate ticked up from 3.5 percent in September to 3.6 percent in October.

Other measures of Oregon’s labor force also indicated a tight labor market in recent months. Fewer individuals are remaining unemployed for extended periods: The number of individuals unemployed for 52 weeks or more dropped to 6,000 in October, which was the lowest level in a dozen years and well below the peak of 70,000 in 2010. The number of unemployed who lost their job has remained close to 32,000 for the past three years, which was less than one-quarter of those unemployed due to a job loss in 2009. Meanwhile, the number of people who were unemployed due to leaving their job voluntarily has recently risen above 16,000, up from an average of 12,000 during the prior six calendar years. The increase in the number of people leaving their jobs voluntarily could indicate increasing confidence among workers of being able to easily find another job if they quit their current job.

Read the full press release here.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Employment Among Oregon's Veteran's

In 2018, the unemployment rate for veterans in Oregon was 4.8 percent, according to the Current Population Survey. Overall, Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in 2018. Across the U.S., veterans had a lower unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

About 296,000 veterans lived in Oregon in 2018. More than half of veterans (162,000) were not in the labor force. This figure could be related to the age of veterans. According to the American Community Survey, more than half of Oregon’s veterans were age 65 years or older and served in the military at least four decades ago: Vietnam War (110,596 veterans), Korean War (20,634), and World War II (7,852). Gulf-War I and II veterans totaled 94,463.

Around 128,000 of the 134,000 veterans in the labor force were employed, with 105,000 being employed full time and 22,000 part time. About 6,000 veterans were unemployed, which accounted for 7.3 percent of the unemployed population (82,000) in the state. Over the last two decades, unemployed veterans made up between 6.9 percent and 14.6 percent of the overall unemployed population in Oregon.

Veterans are employed across all industries. In the United States, manufacturing (11.7% of veterans); professional and business services (11.4%); retail trade (8.4%); and education and health services (8.4%) are industries where a large number of veterans are employed. About 21.7 percent of veterans work in government.

In 2018, Oregon’s veterans earned a higher median income ($40,012) than nonveterans ($30,979). Education could be one of the factors influencing veterans’ higher median income. Among Oregon veterans ages 25 years and older, 42.6 percent have an associate’s degree or some college compared with 33.5 percent of nonveterans. About 5.4 percent of veterans don’t have a high school diploma, while 9.9 percent of nonveterans don’t have a high school diploma. Higher educational attainment generally translates into higher earnings.

Female veterans, who represented 8.9 percent of Oregon’s veterans, earned a median income of $35,832, less than male veterans’ median of $40,485, but higher than female nonveterans’ income of $25,780.

Veterans are more likely to have a disability, but less likely to be in poverty than the general population. About 33.3 percent of Oregon’s veterans reported having disability, compared with 15.0 percent of the total civilian population. About 7.2 percent of veterans were in poverty compared with about 12.1 percent of the total civilian population.

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Oregon Employment Forecast: Solid Fundamentals, More Uncertainty

The U.S. economic expansion turned 10 years old this summer, making it the longest expansion in recorded history. Locally, Oregon continues to add jobs and our unemployment rate remains at or near record lows. In addition, incomes are rising and initial claims for unemployment insurance (a measure of layoffs) are down. All told, the state’s economy continues to hit the sweet spot.

How long will this last? In their latest employment forecast, Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) asserts that expansions don’t die of old age. Instead, they’re usually snuffed out by bad behavior or policy mistakes. The Federal Reserve is currently adjusting monetary policy in an attempt to keep borrowing cheap, businesses and consumers confident, and the next recession at bay. The key question is whether they can successfully walk the tightrope of stimulating the economy without overheating it.

Several broad industries are projected to slowly over the next year. The manufacturing sector is flat heading into 2020, weighed down by trade issues and global risks. Construction also decelerates even as the housing rebound continues; growth rates topping 8 percent in recent years are simply unsustainable. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector settles down after the Amazon surge of the past few years which saw thousands of jobs created in the warehousing component.
Other industries will take up the slack. The public sector will outperform its recent past across most components: Local government will grow as revenues continue to improve in step with the economy, and the federal component will be bolstered by Census hiring. Private education and health services also accelerates, primarily due to the healthcare component as our population continues to grow and age. Professional and business services rebounds from its recent slump and outperforms all other broad industries.

Oregon’s forecasted growth depends on maintaining three major competitive advantages that have served us well in the past: our ability to attract and retain a skilled labor force; our industry structure; and a favorable climate for new business formation.
To learn more, read Regional Economist Amy Vander Vliet's full article here

Friday, November 1, 2019

Most Oregon Counties Saw Real Wage Growth from 2008 to 2018

Most of Oregon’s counties had an increase in inflation-adjusted average wages from 2008 to 2018. Overall, the average wage for the entire state increased by $6,026 over those 10 years after adjusting for inflation.

Most of the statewide increase was driven by the large gains in Washington and Multnomah counties. These two counties in the Portland metro area are home to more than 1.4 million Oregonians (about one-third of the state’s population) and more than $51 billion in payroll (slightly over 50 percent of the state’s total). Washington County is home to several high-wage industries, including company headquarters and high tech manufacturing. Both of these industries have a disproportionately large presence in the county, and both have added thousands of jobs over the past 10 years.

Gilliam and Sherman counties lost ground on wages, and in both cases it seems to be related to the reduction in wind farm construction. In 2008, Sherman County had 96 jobs in construction that paid an average wage of over $114,000 per year. By 2018, employment had dropped to 64 jobs that paid about $77,000 per year.

Despite some losses, a majority of Oregon’s counties – 34 out of 36 – had 2018 wages that were higher than they were in 2008 even after adjusting for inflation.

To learn more, read Regional Economist Erik Knoder's full article here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Halloween Fun Facts

Happy Halloween! We're treating you with some fun facts related to Halloween festivities.

The 2018 population of Oregonians under age 15 potentially in search of candy asking "trick or treat?"

The number of households statewide (2018) that children might pass by and/or visit while trick-or-treating

The number of confectionery and nut stores in Oregon that sold candy and other confectionery products in 2018

The number of chocolate and confectionery product manufacturing establishments in Oregon in 2018

The number of people employed by manufacturing establishments in Oregon that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2018

Average estimated Halloween spending per buyer in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation's annual survey

Oregon's total number of gift and novelty stores in 2018, which includes seasonal Halloween costume stores 

More fun facts about Halloween are available at the U.S. Census Bureau's Facts For Feature page. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Mental Health Industry – Open Hearted Folks Helping Minds in Need

In recent years, society has been learning that mental health can be just as important as physical health. Oregon has joined in this trend, evidenced by the strong growth in mental health care workers around the state. Hospitals, clinics, and residential facilities employ thousands of trained mental health workers to help people get better. These jobs often pay better than average wages, but they come with larger than average challenges along with the potential to make a positive difference in the lives of people in the community.

Mental health workers address a range of issues. Some are experts in treating depression, while others specialize in drug and alcohol addiction. Therapists might help with cognitive recovery after a stroke or talking through family and marriage issues. Mental health workers can be employed in schools, hospitals, residential facilities, or working out of an office building in private practice.

There is no defined mental health industry. However, mental health professionals are most frequently employed in five industries:
The two best known mental health occupations are psychologists and psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are Medical Doctors with an MD degree (Doctor of Medicine). Psychologists typically need at least a graduate degree and often have a doctoral degree. There are about 300 psychiatrists working in Oregon and a little over 1,000 psychologists.

In addition to psychiatrists and psychologists there are more than 20,000 mental health workers in Oregon. These are counselors, therapists, and social workers. These mental health workers may specialize in medical rehabilitation, child behavior, substance abuse, or some combination of issues.

Some of these occupations, such as rehabilitation counselors and social workers, may require some post high school training without a four year-college degree, while some of these occupations typically require a master’s degree, such as marriage and family therapists.
To learn more about mental health employment in Oregon, read Workforce Analyst Christian Kaylor's full article here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

September 2019 Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 3.3 percent in September 2019. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in September included Hood River (3.4%), Washington (3.4%), and Multnomah (3.6%). Three counties had unemployment rates at or below the national rate of 3.5 percent. Nine of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates below the statewide rate of 4.1 percent. Grant County registered the highest unemployment rate for the month at 7.1 percent. Other counties with some of the highest unemployment rates in September were Klamath (6.7%) and Wallowa (6.6%).
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in all six of Oregon’s broad regions between September 2018 and September 2019. The largest job gains occurred in the Portland area (+1.1%). The Coast (+0.8%), Southern Oregon (+0.8%), the Willamette Valley (+0.7%), Central Oregon (+0. 6%), and Eastern Oregon (+0.4%) also saw employment growth over the past year.
Read the full press release here

Friday, October 18, 2019

Differences in Workers' Employment, Education and Industry by Ethnicity

According to the 2013-2017 five-year ACS estimates (the most current available), Oregon had roughly 2.1 million people between the ages of 25 and 64. Of them, 236,000 were of Hispanic or Latino origin, while the state’s non-Hispanic population in the same prime working age range totaled 1.9 million. The non-Hispanic population includes Oregonians of any race (African-American, Asian, Native American, White, or any other race(s)) that did not self-identify as Hispanic or Latino.

Educational attainment differed widely between Hispanic and non-Hispanic prime working age populations. Almost two-thirds (63%) of the non-Hispanic population had some education beyond high school. Meanwhile, two-thirds (67%) of the Hispanic population had a high school diploma or less.

Labor Force Participation

Employment and labor force participation also varied notably between Hispanic and non-Hispanic populations. At all education levels, larger shares of the Hispanic prime working age population were in the labor force. The largest disparities occurred among those with less education. Nearly half (45%) of the non-Hispanic population with less than a high school degree sat out of the labor force, compared with 21 percent of Hispanic or Latino Oregonians in the same age group. Among those with at least some college education, shares of the population who were employed looked quite similar.

Education Pays

Hispanic and Latino workers ages 25 to 64 with a high school diploma or less were particularly concentrated in lower-wage industries. Annual wages for all jobs covered by Unemployment Insurance in Oregon averaged $52,400 in 2018. While roughly one-third (35%) of all non-Hispanic workers held jobs in sectors that paid below the all-industry average, nearly half (48%) of Hispanic workers did. As educational attainment increased, the distribution of industry employment looked similar by ethnicity.

Manufacturing and construction showed similar patterns for Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Comparable shares of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic prime-age workers across education categories held jobs in manufacturing. Larger shares of prime-age workers with a high school degree or less held jobs in construction compared with more educated workers.

Keep Learning for Higher Earnings

Overall, the portion of Oregonians ages 25 to 64 that participated in the labor force and held jobs increased along with educational attainment. Employed Oregonians with more education were also more likely to work in higher-wage industries. Larger shares of the Oregon’s Hispanic or Latino prime working age population had not earned a high school diploma. Hispanic and Latino workers were more concentrated in lower-paying industries. Additional data about the demographic and educational attainment characteristics of workers can be found on the IPUMS USA website,

Read senior economic analyst Gail Krumenauer's full article here

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Oregon’s Job Growth Cools in September

In September, Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment added 200 jobs, following a loss of 900 jobs in August. Job gains have cooled recently, averaging only 100 per month over the past five months. This flat economic trend is in contrast to gains that averaged 3,000 jobs per month in all of calendar year 2018, and 4,100 jobs per month during the rapid and consistent growth Oregon experienced during the prior five-year period.

During September, some industries expanded while others contracted. Monthly gains were strongest in health care and social assistance (+2,300 jobs); wholesale trade (+1,000); and manufacturing (+400). These gains were offset by cutbacks in government (-2,100 jobs); financial activities (-500); professional and business services (-500); and retail trade (-400).

Health care and social assistance has grown consistently for many years. Over the past 12 months, the industry grew by 9,000 jobs, or 3.5 percent, with each of its components adding jobs rapidly as demand for health care services increased along with Oregon’s expanding and aging population. Manufacturing continued to grow faster than Oregon’s overall economy over the past 12 months, with gains of 6,100 jobs, or 3.1 percent.

Retail trade is down by 3,900 jobs over the past 12 months, while transportation, warehousing and utilities counterbalanced that loss with a gain of 4,100 jobs as more shopping takes place online.
Read the full press release here.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Oregon's Forestry and Logging Industry Employment

Oregon is one of the world’s great tree-growing areas. The state’s soils and climate provide ideal conditions to grow such commercially viable species as Douglas fir and ponderosa pine. Forests cover more than 30 million of Oregon’s 62 million acres – almost half of the state’s landmass.

Firms in the forestry and logging sector grow and harvest timber on a long production cycle, generally of 10 years or more. Timber production requires natural forests or suitably large areas of land that are available long term. Oregon’s often mountainous and remote terrain, in both public and private ownership, provides that land base.

The forestry and logging subsector is made up of three industries:
  • Timber tract operations
  • Forest nurseries and gathering of forest products
  • Logging
According to the Oregon Employment Department’s covered employment statistics, the subsector’s 755 firms employed 9,009 people statewide and added $546 million in payroll to Oregon’s economy in 2018. Employment was in slow decline between 2005 and 2009 and has since leveled off. It is currently varying seasonally in a band between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs.

Of the 2018 annual average total, 5,711 are employed in the private sector while 3,298 are employed in government. Most of the government employment is in federal government at 3,125 while the rest is in state government.

Covered employment is a count of workers covered by Oregon’s unemployment insurance (UI) program. Self-employed individuals are generally not included in the program and, therefore, not counted. However, the U.S. Census Bureau produces nonemployer statistics. A nonemployer business is one that has no paid employees, has annual business receipts of $1,000 or more, and is subject to federal income taxes. In addition to covered employment, the forestry and logging industry had 1,544 nonemployers in Oregon in 2017. Gross income for these companies was $103 million. Although there is no further industry breakout, it is likely that many of these self-employed are involved in timber tract operations and the gathering of forest products.

Forestry and logging is a highly seasonal industry. Employment generally grows throughout the spring and peaks in August. Employment often stabilizes for a month or two in the fall before dropping off as winter rains begin.
Read the full article, Oregon's Forestry and Logging Industry: From Planting to Harvest, written by regional economist Brian Rooney.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Help Wanted in Oregon: Employers Report 62,800 Vacancies in Summer

Hiring demand remained strong in Oregon this summer. Private employers reported 62,800 job vacancies, essentially unchanged (-1%) from the 63,500 job openings reported during summer 2018. The labor market also remained tight. For both Oregon and the U.S., the ratio of unemployed persons to job openings has been 1-to-1 for three consecutive summers.
Here are a few more highlights about Oregon's job vacancies this summer:
  1. Private health care and social assistance employers reported the most vacancies of any sector (11,200).
  2. Employers reported strong seasonal hiring demand, with 10,300 job openings in leisure and hospitality and 7,400 in retail trade.
  3. Hiring remained widespread across different types of jobs in the economy. Businesses reported at least 1,000 job vacancies in 20 out of 21 occupational groups.
  4. Detailed occupations with the largest number of summer vacancies included personal care aides; retail salespersons; production workers; laborers and freight, stock, and material movers; and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.
  5. Starting wages averaged $17.95 per hour; on average, real starting wages (inflation-adjusted) grew by $1 per hour over the year. 
More information about job vacancies in Oregon can be found in the Job Vacancy box on the Publications page of