Oregon's Unemployment Rate Hits New Record Low in June

The June unemployment rate of 4 percent is the lowest the rate has been since 1976, when the state first began collecting similar records.

Posted: Jul. 17, 2018 3:12 PM

SALEM, Ore. — After hovering at a previous record-low for months, Oregon's unemployment rate dropped slightly in June—setting a new record for lowest unemployment rate since comparable records began in 1976.

Oregon's unemployment rate in May was 4.1 percent. In June that figure dropped, matching the U.S. average at 4 percent.

Most of the gains seen in June came from about 1,800 new leisure and hospitality jobs and 1,000 new private educational services jobs. The health care, manufacturing and construction industries also saw modest growth.

The biggest job losses came from the retail market, which shed about 1,000 jobs throughout the month.

Oregon added considerably more jobs back in May—showing a revised gain of 3,200 in "nonfarm" payroll employment (jobs) in May versus a gain of 1,900 jobs in June.

According to the Oregon Employment Department (OED), job growth has continued to slow this year, with much larger job gains from 2013 through 2017. Oregon's job growth rate over the past 12 months has been 1.6 percent, but that rate was closer to 2.8 percent in previous years—peaking at 3.7 percent in 2015.

Part of the reason for this slower job growth, says OED, is an "unusually tight labor market." Employers are beginning to find it more difficult to hire workers. That "tightness" is reflected in the following signs, according to OED:

 • The number of people working part time for economic reasons is at the lowest since at least 2002, when comparable records began.
 • The broadest measure of labor underutilization, U-6, dropped to 7.8 percent in June, which was its lowest reading since at least 2002.
 • The number of Oregonians unemployed for 27 weeks or more dropped below 7,000, the lowest level since at least 2002, and far below the more than 100,000 long-term unemployed in 2010 during the aftermath of the recession.
 • The number of people entering the labor market without a job was at its lowest level since at least 2000, when comparable records began.

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