Posted by: Josh Lehner | February 28, 2012

Oregon Employment, January 2012

  • In January, Oregon saw an increase of 5,400 jobs (seasonally adjusted)
  • Unemployment rate declined to 8.8 percent (U.S. is 8.3 percent)
  • Benchmark revisions for 2011 were down, as expected

This morning the Oregon Employment Department released preliminary estimates for January employment along with its annual revisions (covering the Oct 2010 – Jun 2011 period). As expected, the revisions were up for late 2010 and down for most of 2011. While the revisions slightly alter the specifics of Oregon’s employment situation, the larger picture remains unchanged: Oregon’s labor market is recovering from the recession at a glacial pace, in fits and starts and roughly in-line with the U.S. overall, or the average state.

In January the state added 5,400 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. The Private Sector added 4,800 while the Public Sector added 600. The largest gains were seen in the following industries: Manufacturing (+1,700), Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+1,300), Education and Health Services (+1,200) and Financial Activities (+1,100). Other Services (-500) and Information (-300) were the largest job loss industries over the month.

Given the strong gains in January and the downward revisions, the current level of employment in the state is generally about the same as it was thought to be in December. The graph below illustrates the job loss and recovery by recession in Oregon, post WWII. Both the unrevised (pre-benchmark) and revised (post-benchmark) lines are shown for the current business cycle to illustrate the effect the revisions have on the data.

Another aspect of Oregon’s recovery is the uneven nature of the employment gains over the past couple of years. The state experienced strong growth in late 2010 and early 2011, particularly the Private Sector, only to effectively stall out during the middle portion of last year. The next graph shows monthly employment gains since December 2009 (when Oregon’s total nonfarm employment bottomed out). The red line is the average monthly employment gains during Oregon’s previous two expansions. During the 1990s expansion the state added, on average, 3,600 jobs per month while during the 2000s expansion the state added, on average, 3,200 jobs per month.

In terms of employment, 2012 is off to a very solid start and continued growth is expected throughout the year. Stay tuned for much more labor market data in the coming weeks. One topic in particular we will be discussing is regional employment and economic performance.

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