Oregon's Unemployment Rate Hits Record Low


Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent in November, the lowest on comparable records dating back to 1976. The October unemployment rate was 4.0 percent, as revised from the originally reported figure of 4.1 percent.

In November, Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped below 4 percent for the first time since comparable records dating back to 1976. This puts the rate slightly above the November U.S. rate of 3.5 percent. Oregon’s unemployment rate has been hovering near historical lows of near 4 percent for the past 37 months.

Meanwhile, total non-farm payroll employment shot up by 6,300 jobs in November, following an upwardly revised gain of 6,500 jobs in October. October was revised upward by 2,100 jobs.

So far in 2019, monthly employment gains have averaged 2,600 jobs, which is slightly slower than in 2018 when monthly growth averaged 3,000 jobs.

The tight labor market, and perhaps the unusually mild and dry weather in November, seem to have influenced seasonal trends in the major industries. Industries that normally shed a lot of workers during the autumn months didn’t cut back as much as normal. In November, the following industries cut back less than normal, and therefore posted seasonally adjusted job gains: construction (+2,200 jobs), manufacturing (+1,900 jobs), and professional and business services (+1,400 jobs).

On the flip side, the tight labor market may have inhibited certain industries from hiring as many workers as normal in November. Government and retail trade both normally add a substantial number of jobs in November, but each industry hired a few hundred jobs fewer than normal for the month.

Oregon’s over-the-year job growth of 1.6 percent closely matched the U.S. job growth of 1.5 percent. Most of Oregon’s major industries have expanded by about 2 percent since November 2018. The primary exception of an industry growing faster was education and health services, which grew by 9,900 jobs, or 3.3 percent. Conversely, the only major industry that contracted substantially over the past 12 months was retail trade, which cut 1,800 jobs, or -0.9 percent.

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