Thursday, January 29, 2015

2014 in Review: End of the Seven Year Jobs Ditch

by Nick Beleiciks, State Employment Economist

The seven-year jobs ditch that Oregon’s economy endured since December 2007 came to an end when payroll jobs finally surpassed their pre-recession peak level in November 2014 (Graph 1). The state’s economy added 50,300 jobs over the year, the largest November to November jobs gain since 1996. Oregon’s over-the-year growth rate of 3.0 percent was well above the historical average and the fastest job growth since 2004 when the growth rate was also 3.0 percent.

Despite the job growth, a high number of unemployed Oregonians and an inflow of new workers kept downward pressure on worker earnings. The average hourly wage in 2014 was about $23.00 per hour. After adjusting for inflation, the average worker in Oregon is earning less than they were during the recession.

Oregon’s unemployment rate barely fell over the year, moving from 7.3 percent in November 2013 to 7.0 percent in November 2014. The strong job growth during the year was matched by a large increase in Oregon’s labor force. The labor force growth mostly consisted of people who found employment, but enough unemployed labor force entrants kept the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate elevated. The unemployment rate in 2014 was just below Oregon’s long-term (back to 1976) historical average of 7.3 percent.

Other highlights from the report:
  • The private sector drove job growth in 2014. Four out of five jobs added were in the private sector.
  • Central Oregon was the fastest growing area in the state.
  • Labor force participation started to increase.

For a more in-depth analysis of Oregon's 2014 labor market, read Nick Beleiciks' full article: 2014 in Review: End of the Seven Year Jobs Ditch.

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