Oregon Unemployment Climbs, Job Creation Slows in December

After a slow and steady decline in unemployment and increased job creation over the past few years, Oregon is beginning to see a plateau in its job market.

Posted: Jan 15, 2019 11:16 AM
Updated: Jan 15, 2019 11:20 AM

SALEM, Ore. — After a steadily dropping unemployment rate and bumper job creation that began nearly a decade ago following peak recession, Oregon's job market appears to have reached a plateau — if not the beginning of an active decline — according to numbers from the Oregon Employment Department (OED).

The state unemployment rate hit an all-time low of 3.8 percent in August and September, but rose back up to 4.1 percent by December. However, the trend of plateau over a precipitously declining unemployment rate really began around the advent of 2017, when state unemployment rates first reached the realm of 4.1 percent.

According to OED numbers, job creation also slowed by December of 2018. The state gained a net 300 jobs through the month, after a similar number in November.

"These two months of nearly flat employment trends followed four months of fairly rapid job gains that averaged 3,700 per month during July through October," the agency said.

While the state has continued to add jobs in leisure and hospitality (1,600 jobs), health care and social assistance (1,000 jobs) and government work (900 jobs), these gains were largely counter-balanced by losses in professional and business services (-1,900 jobs) and retail trade (-1,500 jobs).

"The federal government shutdown did not impact Oregon’s December federal government jobs tally," OED said.

The agency said that retail trade saw a weak hiring period during the holidays as the industry continued to shed jobs. Although retail has seen some minimal growth beginning in early 2017, the past year has not been kind to the industry overall.

"The sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores component of retail has downsized over the past few years due to changes in how customers acquire their goods and services," OED said.

Oregon’s non-farm payroll employment has increased by 30,800 jobs, or 1.6 percent, since December 2017. In that time, construction remained the fastest growing industry, with a gain of 4,900 jobs or 4.8 percent.

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