Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oregon's Employed, Unemployed, and Discouraged Workers

The Oregon Employment Department produces and publishes data on the number of employed and unemployed persons in the state based on a survey of about 1,000 households. In April 2012, there were 1,811,024 employed persons in Oregon, and 168,679 persons who were unemployed. The state’s official unemployment rate was 8.5 percent. Oregon also had an estimated 4,400 discouraged workers in April. If these workers were included in the unemployment rate, it would rise to 8.7 percent for April.

The official unemployment rate (or “U-3”) is calculated by taking the number of unemployed persons, and dividing it by the number of persons in the labor force. The total labor force consists of all those ages 16 and over in the civilian non-institutional population (so not active military, not in prison, and so on) who are employed and unemployed. To be considered unemployed, the person must have made specific efforts to find a job within the last four weeks. Whether or not a person is receiving or has ever received Unemployment Insurance benefits has no bearing on the definition of unemployed, or whether the person is counted as unemployed in the official rolls.

The Oregon Employment Department also publishes alternate measures of labor underutilization. One such measure (“U-4”) includes discouraged workers. Discouraged workers have looked for work in the past 12 months, and would like a job. However, they have not actively sought work within the last four weeks due to their belief that they do not have any job prospects. The official definition of unemployment excludes discouraged workers because they are not actively seeking work.

More unemployment rates and numbers for Oregon and local areas are available at QualityInfo on the Local Area Unemployment Statistics page.

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