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Oregon's Unemployment Rate Remains Low

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.

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in September, essentially unchanged from 4.0 percent in August. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent in September, from 3.7 percent in August. Oregon’s unemployment rate has been between 4.0 percent and 4.4 percent for 35 consecutive months dating back to November 2016.

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. Since September 2018, ambulatory health care services added 2,900 jobs, social assistance added 2,400 jobs, nursing and residential care facilities added 1,800 jobs, and hospitals added 1,100 jobs.

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. Nondurable goods (+4,000 jobs, or 6.5%) and transportation equipment manufacturing (+900 jobs, or 7.4%) led manufacturing’s growth. However, construction jobs have stabilized, with little overall change in employment over the past six months. 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. 

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