The latest figures indicate that Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been on a generally declining trend for the past two and a half years. Since reaching a high point of 11.6 percent in May and June 2009, Oregon's rate trended downward. At 8.8 percent in January, it is at its lowest rate since November 2008, when Oregon's rate was 8.4 percent.
In January, 190,015 Oregonians were unemployed. This is 21,562 fewer individuals than in January 2011 when 211,577 Oregonians were unemployed.
Oregon's seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment gained 5,400 in January, following a revised loss of 300 in December. January job gains were led by manufacturing (+1,700 jobs); trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,300); educational and health services (+1,200); and financial activities (+1,100). None of the major industries saw losses of more than 500 jobs.
Manufacturing cut only 700 jobs at a time of year when a loss of 2,400 is the typical seasonal pattern. Several durable goods industries have grown substantially since January 2011. Fabricated metal product manufacturing reached a recent low point of 13,300 jobs in January 2010. Since then, it ramped up its employment level to reach 14,900 by January of this year. Despite this gain, the industry is well below its peak of the prior two decades, when it averaged 18,000 jobs in 1998.
Similarly, machinery manufacturing has been growing its headcount over the past 24 months. It reached a low of 9,300 two years ago and employed 11,000 this January. Meanwhile, computer and electronic product manufacturing employed close to 35,000 throughout most of 2009 and 2010. During early 2011, employment grew modestly and stood at 36,500 in January 2012.
Transportation equipment manufacturing bottomed at close to 10,000 in all of 2009 and 2010. Since then, it added workers at a steady clip, and employed 11,200 by January.
Trade, transportation, and utilities dropped its employment by 10,800 in January following the buildup leading into the holidays. This job loss was less than the 12,100-job decline predicted by normal seasonal factors for the first month of the year. Retail trade cut 8,100 in January as many of the temporary holiday workers were let go. Despite the job loss, retail was up 3,100 compared with its January 2011 figure. Food and beverage stores gained 600 jobs over the year to lead all published retail components in such gains. Nonstore retailers cut 700 jobs since January 2011, the weakest performance of the published retail component industries.
Educational and health services cut only 3,300 jobs for January, which was fewer than the decline of 4,500 expected due to seasonal factors. This major private-sector industry continues to grow on a seasonally adjusted basis at a rapid and consistent pace. Private-sector educational services normally cuts jobs in January, and this year the loss was 2,400. But this was close to normal and the industry is up by 1,900 since January 2011. Each of the health care industries added between 1,000 and 1,400 jobs in the 12 months through January, while social assistance was up by 300 in that time.
Financial activities cut 900 jobs when a loss of more than double that amount was expected due to the time of year. This is good news for the industry, as it continued to see modest job losses throughout most of 2011. Employment in the industry was still 400 below its year-ago level, at 90,900 in January.