Monday, March 13, 2017

An Overview of Oregon’s Labor Force in 2016

Oregon’s 2016 annual average labor force figures have arrived. Here’s a quick overview of the numbers.

Total population = 4,093,000
-          Civilian noninstitutional population, 16 years and over = 3,274,000
o   Civilian labor force = 2,061,000
§  Employed = 1,960,000
§  Unemployed = 101,000
o   Not in labor force = 1,213,000
-          Under 16 years old, on active duty in the military, or living in an institutional setting = 819,000

The 819,000 people are not counted in the labor force statistics because they are not likely to participate in the labor market since they are under 16 years old, on active duty in the military, or living in an institutional setting, such as a correctional institution or a residential nursing or mental health facility.

The 1,213,000 who are not in the labor force are not actively looking for work. Half of these people are retired, one-eighth have a disability that is keeping them out of the labor force, and the rest have some other reason for not looking for work (usually family care or full-time school).

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed divided by the labor force, so 101,000/2,061,000 = 4.9 percent. This annual average rate for 2016 tied with 1995 as a record low for Oregon going back to 1976, the earliest we have comparable records.

Another key indicator is the labor force participation rate, which is the civilian labor force divided by the civilian noninstitutional population, 16 years and over, so 2,061,000/3,274,000 = 63.0 percent. The labor force participation rate receives more attention than it used to because long term it’s on a downward trend in Oregon and the U.S. That's due to more baby boomers reaching retirement age and leaving the labor force, and fewer teenagers joining the labor force than in past generations. See more in our report Oregon’s Falling Labor Force Participation: A Story of Baby Boomers, Youth, and the Great Recession.

Written by State Employment Economist Nick Beleicks.

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