Oregon’s economy is recovering. Job growth has picked up as have wages and the unemployment rate is falling (for both good and bad reasons). Even still, the labor market is not 100 percent healthy as we still have too much unemployment, in particular among the long-term unemployed, the hiring rate is not fully back and workers are not confident in the economy to quit their jobs, for fear they will not be able to find another and the like. Given that no single measure can convey the full situation, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta developed an elegant spider chart last year that lets you visualize the improvements in the labor market across a wide variety of indicators. Below is our office’s Oregon version of the same chart, or at least including similar metrics.
What this chart shows is pre-recession peak levels of each measure along the green line (100%) and each measure’s recessionary trough at the red dot (0%). Over time as these measures improve along with the economy from the worst of the recession, they move outward from the center. Once the measures reach the green line, that indicates it has fully regained the level (or rate) last seen prior to the Great Recession.
10 of the 12 measures are Oregon specific ones, with the quits rate and jobs plentiful measures being national as no local data is available. Overall, the labor market is getting there. The leading indicators have improved the most, but now employer behavior is picking up. The number of help wanted ads is all the way back as employers are looking to hire. While hiring rates have improved, as too has total employment, average hours worked is lagging somewhat relative to these other measures. Where the labor market has shown the least improvements are in the confidence and utilization measures, which can broadly be considered the “feel good” part of the recovery. We are not to that point yet, but progress is being made, albeit slowly.