Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in February and March. For 15 consecutive months, the rate has been close to 4.1 percent, its lowest level since comparable records began in 1976. The U.S. unemployment rate was also 4.1 percent in both February and March. The economy continues to expand as reflected by record highs in Oregon’s civilian labor force (2,132,000 individuals) and total employment (2,043,000 individuals).
In March, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by 4,200 jobs, following a revised gain of 700 jobs in February. Recent growth was somewhat stronger than during much of 2016 and 2017 when growth averaged 3,700 jobs per month.
In March, retail trade added 2,400 jobs, due to stronger hiring patterns than normal during the first three months of the year. These gains followed somewhat lackluster holiday hiring in retail at the end of 2017. In the past 12 months, the retail components adding the most jobs were motor vehicle and parts dealers (+1,000 jobs) and food and beverage stores (+1,000 jobs).
Manufacturing rebounded in March, adding 1,200 jobs, following a loss of 900 in February. Oregon’s manufacturing sector is growing, adding 4,200 jobs over the past 12 months. Durable goods manufacturing picked up the pace of hiring in recent months. Its growth was led by computer and electronic product manufacturing, which added 2,100 jobs over the past 12 months.
Professional and business services was the only other major industry with a notable over-the-month job change in March. It added 800 jobs, putting this large industry back on a track of modest expansion. Within the past 12 months it added 2,800 jobs, or 1.2 percent.
Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 41,000 jobs, or 2.2 percent, since March 2017. Oregon is adding jobs faster than the U.S. rate of 1.5 percent.