Posted by: Josh Lehner | January 18, 2012

Oregon Employment – December 2011

  • Employment increased 2,400 in December. November estimates revised upward 500 (now a loss of 1,100)
  • Unemployment rate decreased to 8.9%, its lowest level in over 3 years.
  • Oregon employment growth since Jan ’10 identical to U.S. growth

In December, Total Nonfarm Employment increased 2,400 on a seasonally adjusted basis and the November estimates were revised upward by 500 (the month now shows a loss of 1,100 instead of a 1,600 loss.) The private sector added 700 jobs while the public sector added 1,700. Leisure and Hospitality (+2,700) led the way while Educational and Health Services (-2,200) saw the largest decline, primarily in the Health Services component. The public sector gains were concentrated in the local government sector while state held steady and federal declined slightly. All told, the fourth quarter of 2011 saw an over-the-quarter gain of 1,667 (0.41% AR.) Over-the-year growth in the fourth quarter totaled 20,033 jobs, or 1.25%. (Now that preliminary estimates are available for all of 2011, look for a post soon on full-year analysis and where the year fits in an historical sense.)

While the jobs reports over the past quarter have been relatively disappointing, given where we are in the cycle, as shown below it actually matches the latest forecast from our office. In December, Total Nonfarm Employment remains 6.5% below pre-recession levels, reached in February 2008, however it has increased from a recession-worst of 8.5% reached in December 2009.

As for industry growth, the graphs below illustrate which industries have seen gains (and losses) in Oregon and compares these figures with U.S. growth. These calculation are based on the past 2 years, or since employment began growing in Oregon (U.S. growth resumed in February 2010.) In Oregon the bulk of the employment gains have come in the Education and Health Services and Leisure and Hospitality industries, which have each grown approximately 6% over the past 24 months.

Relative to the nation, Oregon has added slightly more jobs over the past 24 months and has outpaced the U.S. in the following industries: Construction, Information, Education and Health Services and Leisure and Hospitality. Oregon has also not lost as many public sector jobs as the nation overall.

This final industry graph is more granular and detailed. It illustrates the share of growth each industry represents to the expansion over the past 2 years for both Oregon and the U.S. When both the blue and red bars are at equal values, this indicates that that specific industry has contibuted the same amount to growth in Oregon and in the nation overall. For example, Health Care in Oregon represents 27% of the growth and in the U.S. it represents 26.5% of the growth. When the two bars diverge, that means the industry is performing differently in Oregon compared to the nation overall.

Finally, in December the retail trade industry added 900 jobs over the month on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. This brings the seasonal increase over the last quarter of the year to 8,700 within the industry – a decrease of 2,000 compared to 2010, however stronger than the 2007-2009 years.

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