Posted by: Josh Lehner | October 19, 2010

Oregon Employment – September 2010

The Oregon Employment Department released the September employment estimates this morning. Total Nonfarm employment fell 1,800 in September which comes on the heels of a downwardly revised loss of 2,800 in August. The bulk of the job losses in September occurred in the public sector where Federal employment declined 1,100, Local employment declined 2,400 and State employment increased 100. The private sector posted a gain of 1,600 in September. The private sector losses occurred in the following industries: constuction (-1,000), manufacturing (-2,100) and trade, transportation and utilities (-700). Job gains were seen in information (+100), financial activities (+400), professional and business services (+1,400), leisure and hospitality (+2,800) and other services (+1,400).

In the first nine months of 2010, seasonally adjusted Total Nonfarm employment in Oregon has increased 2,800 with the private sector increasing 3,800 and the public sector declining 1,000.  Construction (-2,100), manufacturing (-1,900) and local government (-2,700) have seen the largest declines in the past nine months, while wholesale trade (+1,200), professional and business services (+4,100) and leisure and hospitality (+4,800) have all registered sizable gains.

On a year-over-year basis, Total Nonfarm employment in Oregon has declined just 1,000 from September 2009, or 0.06 percent. This marks the smallest year-over-year decline since the summer of 2008. The obvious downside of these figures is the fact that they are improving due to the stabilization of employment, not due to substantial increases in jobs. Much like the unemployment rate, jobs have moved sideways for the past year.

Since February 2008, when state total nonfarm employment peaked, Oregon has lost jobs in 27 of the past 31 months. Currently, total nonfarm employment is 8.38 percent below peak levels, or 145,800 jobs. 31 months into the early 1980s recession, Oregon had lost 110,200 jobs or 10.26 percent.

Taking a closer look at the different industries in the third quarter overall, one can see that there has not been much change in the most recent months or the past year. Our office’s bubble graph shows employment changes by industry in the most recent quarter on the vertical axis and employment changes over the past year on the horizontal axis. The relative sizes of the bubbles are comparable to the employment sizes of the industries. The graph is currently titled “Drifting in Neutral” as the majority of the industries (and overall employment) are hovering around the graph’s origin – that is showing no large employment changes. Ideally, industries want to be in the upper right quadrant where they would be experiencing job gains in the most recent months and also on a year-over-year basis. Industries tend to move in the clockwise direction, where they lose jobs in the most recent months at the start of a recession then eventually they are losing jobs year-over-year and find themselves in the lower left quadrant. Once the recession begins to wane and recovery takes hold, industries start adding jobs on a monthly basis, the bubbles drift to the upper left quadrant and then with a sustained recovery, the bubbles drift back to the upper right quadrant. Currently there are no really large changes in employment no matter the industry and the bubbles are more or less clustered around the origin. Note: Food manufacturing is “off the chart” in the third quarter due to an extremely weak July, which affects the quarterly figure. Typical seasonal gains seen in July did not materialize this year, however it may be due to the unusually wet weather in the spring and early summer period.

The unemployment rate for Oregon in September was 10.6 percent. The rate has remained essentially unchanged for the past 11 months, as it has fluctuated between 10.5 and 10.7 percent. Just as jobs have stabilized over the past year, the unemployment rate has remained the same as well.

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