Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Unemployment peak shaved to 11.6% in 2009

New numbers for 2009 and prior show that Oregon’s unemployment topped out at 11.6 percent in May and June 2009 and payroll employment dropped by 82,800 jobs, or 4.9 percent, between December 2008 and December 2009.

This means that Oregon’s unemployment rate wasn’t as high as the figures originally reported, which rose as high as 12.2 percent in May.

Employment was revised downward substantially throughout much of the past year. The new numbers indicate that Oregon’s payroll employment fell by 12,900 jobs or 0.7 percent in 2008, and declined by 106,400 jobs or 6.2 percent in 2009. Graphically:

Why were there changes?
When we create our monthly estimates of employment, they are based on a survey of employers. The survey is designed to represent the whole business community, but it doesn't include everyone. When businesses submit their quarterly forms for unemployment insurance purposes, we are able to get a more accurate, total count of employment. We can then use this total count to correct our survey-based estimates.

It's also worth noting that we do this same revision process once a year. In stable economic times, our estimates match up pretty nicely with reality. When the economy is in serious flux -- such as we've seen during the Great Recession -- it's harder to estimate with perfect accuracy.

More info about the revisions, including some detailed notes about the revisions by industry, are available in the full article. Questions can be directed to the author of the article, Economist David Cooke ( | 503-647-1272).

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