Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in March and April. For 16 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 dropped to 3.9 percent in April, from 4.1 percent in March.
In April, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 2,900 jobs, following a revised gain of 5,000 jobs in March. This was Oregon’s first monthly job decline in 16 months. The last decline was in December 2016.
In April, three major industries declined by more than 1,000 jobs. Retail trade dropped by 2,500 jobs, following a gain of 2,400 in March. Health care and social assistance cut 1,400 jobs in April following a gain of 800 during the prior two months. Professional and business services declined by 1,100 jobs and is now down 2,200 since its peak of 244,900 jobs in November 2017.
Meanwhile, seven of Oregon’s major industries added jobs in April, led by leisure and hospitality (+600 jobs) and construction (+500).
Over the past few years Oregon’s economy gradually decelerated, from very rapid growth a few years ago, to moderate growth over the past year. In the past 12 months 29,600 jobs were added, which is a gain of 1.6 percent. This rate of growth is a slowdown from the more rapid expansion during the prior few years when Oregon’s job gains peaked in mid-2015 at 3.7 percent.
Oregon’s annual job gains have been above 1.6 percent since March 2013. Oregon had been adding jobs at a faster pace than the U.S., but now is growing jobs at the same pace as the nation, since U.S. jobs also expanded by 1.6 percent during the past 12 months.
The Oregon Employment Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) work cooperatively to develop and publish monthly Oregon payroll employment and labor force data. The estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. The estimates of unemployment are based on a survey of households and other sources.
The Oregon Employment Department publishes payroll employment estimates that are revised quarterly by using employment counts from employer unemployment insurance tax records. All department publications use this Official Oregon Series data unless noted otherwise. This month’s release incorporates the October, November and December 2017 tax records data. In addition, data for July through September 2017 were revised upward by a total of 500 to 1,300 jobs per month. The department continues to make the original nonfarm payroll employment series available; these data are produced by the BLS.
Effective with the January 2018 data, employment of Oregon’s approximately 17,000 home care workers are counted in private health care and social assistance instead of state government. The change was due to legislative action clarifying that for purposes of workforce and labor market information, home care workers are not employees of state government. The reclassification affects private sector and government monthly change figures for January 2018 and will affect over-the-year change figures through December 2018. It does not affect total payroll employment levels.