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Oregon Unemployment Rate Remains Low

Oregon’s unemployment rate is now close to the state’s historically low unemployment rates which averaged 3.9% during 2017 through 2019, the three calendar years at the end of the prior economic expansion. payroll employment in Oregon rose by 10,000 in November, following a revised gain of 6,400 jobs in October.

In November, gains were largest in leisure and hospitality (+4,100 jobs), construction (+1,800), professional and business services (+1,600), and retail trade (+1,100). These gains were partially offset by a loss of 1,100 jobs in health care and social assistance. Several industries added enough jobs to reach all-time highs. Construction employed 113,800 in November, which was 500 jobs above its prior record reached in February 2020 during the peak of Oregon’s prior economic expansion. Similarly, wholesale trade, which added 400 jobs in November, reached 77,400, enough to boost it to a record high for the first time since February 2020.

Professional and business services rose to 257,500 jobs in November, which was 100 jobs above its pre-COVID record. Leisure and hospitality added 4,100 jobs in November, following a gain of 3,600 in October. Despite these gains, leisure and hospitality still accounts for a large share of Oregon’s jobs not recovered since early 2020, with 25,400 jobs left to recover to reach the prior peak month of February 2020. The industry has regained 77% of jobs lost early in the pandemic. Education and health services was 16,000 jobs — or 5% — below its pre-recession peak.

Within this broad industry, nursing and residential care facilities was 6,900 jobs below its pre-recession peak, and private educational services was down 3,900. Employment in hospitals was down 2,700 jobs, and ambulatory health care services was down 1,200. Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.2% in November, down from 4.4% in October. The U.S. unemployment rate was also 4.2% in November. Oregon’s unemployment rate has declined rapidly over the past six months; it was close to 6% throughout the first half of the year.

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