In December, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by 14,700 jobs, following a revised loss of 300 jobs in November. Monthly gains were concentrated in two industries that bounced back from weaker hiring patterns in the summer, as leisure and hospitality added 4,400 jobs in December and professional and business services added 3,000. Three other industries added at least 1,000 jobs in December: manufacturing (+2,400 jobs), construction (+1,600), and health care and social assistance (+1,000). No major industry cut jobs substantially in December.
Since December 2016, total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 48,400 jobs, or 2.6 percent. This is near the rate of growth experienced throughout 2016 and well into mid-2017. While the jobs reports in late 2017, which covered the August through November data, were indicating a slowdown in Oregon’s economic expansion, the strong jobs reading in December reflects a return to robust growth.
Over the most recent 12 months, gains were most rapid in construction, which added 8,800 jobs, or 9.4 percent. Next in line was leisure and hospitality (+8,900 jobs, or 4.4%), followed closely by private educational services (+1,400 jobs, or 4.0%). Several major industries expanded by close to 3 percent: health care and social assistance (+7,200 jobs, or 3.1%), financial activities (+2,900 jobs, or 3.0%), and professional and business services (+6,600 jobs, or 2.8%). Meanwhile, only two industries changed employment over the year by less than 1 percent: government (+2,300 jobs, or 0.7%) and wholesale trade (-200 jobs, or -0.3%).
Oregon’s unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.1 percent in December from 4.2 percent in November. Oregon’s unemployment rate was the same as the U.S. unemployment rate, which was also 4.1 percent in December. The state’s annual average unemployment rate for 2017 was 4.0 percent, which was Oregon’s lowest annual average unemployment rate since comparable records began in 1976. Oregon’s second-lowest annual average unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, which was reached in 2016 and 1995.