Posted by: Josh Lehner | September 15, 2020

Oregon Employment, August 2020

This morning we got the August 2020 jobs report from our friends at the Employment Department. Our office is working on finishing the next economic and revenue forecast, due out next Wednesday, September 23rd. As a result what follows are a few quick updates to the charts we have been tracking every month. Also stay tuned as this Thursday we will get the 2019 American Community Survey data. While Census data is always backward looking, it is even more so today given the pandemic and recession. That said it is always important to take stock of where we have been, and this dateset provides the best details available on the socioeconomic status of our community. Our office will offer some highlights later this week. Now on to the current state of Oregon’s labor market.

Job growth remained strong in August. The state added 11,300 jobs. Oregon has now regained 44% of its lost jobs. This is good news. The data is no longer apocalyptic; it’s just really bad. And while the economy overall is proving more resilient than expected, we still have a Great Recession sized hole left to fill. This will take time and growth moving forward will be slower. But these first few months of recovery have been encouraging.

One silver lining continues to be that much of the job loss and corresponding increase in unemployment still looks to be temporary. The headline unemployment rate is back down to 7.7%. The declines there are important and good news. That said, the core unemployment rate — a measure of permanent layoffs and damage — continues to be elevated. This is the part of the recovery that will take time, even as many of those on temporary layoff are recalled.

As always, a huge thank you to Tracy Morrissette over at the Oregon Employment Department for his great work digging into the detailed data so we can look at core unemployment in Oregon. Thanks Tracy!

Finally in a good news/bad news update, we continue to see a split in labor market outcomes. Low-wage industries suffered the most during the shelter in place phase of the cycle, given the sudden stop nature of the shutdown. It is here that much of the job growth in recent months is taking place. This is good news as those workers are brought back following temporary layoffs. The bad news is that middle-wage sectors are only seeing very modest gains and high-wage sectors are not seeing any growth in recent months. They may not have suffered as much to date, but they’re also not bouncing back. This is a concern and likely speaks to more permanent layoffs in these industries. Keep in mind that job losses of 5% are more severe than Oregon suffered in the 1973, 1990, and 2001 recessions.

All told, Oregon’s economy continues to recover and heal. Employment is up and unemployment is down. Stay tuned for more on the outlook and where the economy goes from here with next week’s forecast release.


  1. […] Source: Oregon Employment, August 2020 | Oregon Office of Economic Analysis […]

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