Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.7% in May, down from 4.0% in April. This was the fourth consecutive monthly drop in the unemployment rate, down from a recent high of 4.8% in January. The May rate was similar to rates in February through May 2022, when it ranged from 3.5% to 3.7%. Oregon’s May unemployment rate of 3.7% equaled the U.S. unemployment rate, which rose to 3.7% in May from 3.4% in April.
In May, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 3,600 jobs, following a revised gain of 500 jobs in April. Over-the-month gains were largest in financial activities (+1,200 jobs), leisure and hospitality (+1,100), and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+1,000). Declines were largest in retail trade (-500 jobs) and government (-300). Since May 2022, Oregon has added 39,100 nonfarm payroll jobs (+2.0%).
Leisure and hospitality, while still adding jobs, has grown at a slower rate during the past 12 months than during its rapid partial recovery during much of 2020 and 2021. Its component industry, accommodation and food services, which employed 177,000 in May, added 4,800 jobs in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, arts, entertainment, and recreation, which employed 27,600 in May, added 2,800 jobs in that time. Despite these recent gains, leisure and hospitality is still 11,900 jobs (-5%) below where it was in February 2020, just prior to the Pandemic Recession.
Professional and business services job gains have decelerated over the past year. It added 5,200 jobs since May 2022, growing at the same rate of 2.0% as Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment. But at a total of 268,000 jobs in May, professional and business services is well above its pre-recession peak figure of 257,700 jobs in February 2020.
Local government, at 229,700 jobs in May, was back near its pre-recession total. This sector, which includes schools and city and county governments, took about three years to fully rebound from the Pandemic Recession cutbacks during 2020.
Retail trade employment ticked down 500 jobs in May. Industry employment has been steady recently, coming in at 208,800 in May, which was close to its jobs totals of 2017 through 2023, with the exception of the recession-induced plunge of 2020.
Source: Oregon Employment Department