Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Oregon's Unemployment Rate Held Steady at 8.4 Percent in December, as Payroll Employment Grew by 2,000
by David Cooke
Published Jan-22-2013

Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 8.4 percent, unchanged from November. The December 2011 unemployment rate was 9.0 percent. During all months of 2012, Oregon's unemployment rate was between 8.4 percent and 8.9 percent.

In December, 161,254 Oregonians were unemployed. This was 13,527 fewer individuals than in December 2011 when 174,781 Oregonians were unemployed.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, nonfarm payroll employment in Oregon rose by 2,000 jobs in December. The private sector added 2,300 jobs over the month, while the public sector declined by 300. Revised estimates for November show a loss of 900 jobs, when a gain of 600 was initially reported.

The small job losses in September, October, and November, when coupled with the modest job gain in December, equated to a nearly flat employment trend during the last four months of the year. This lackluster trend was disappointing compared with the stronger gains seen during the first eight months of the year, when payrolls expanded by 20,000 jobs.

Trade, transportation, and utilities added the most jobs of the major industry sectors. It grew by 2,900 jobs when a gain of only 400 was the normal seasonal movement. Retail trade was strong as it added 1,900 at the end of the holiday hiring season. Retail was 5,700 jobs above its December 2011 figure, for a gain of 3.0 percent. Similarly, wholesale trade added more jobs than expected for the month, with a gain of 300. It was up 1,500, or 2.0 percent, over the last 12 months.

Private-sector educational and health services added 600 jobs in December, at a time of year when a loss of 300 jobs was expected due to seasonal factors. This sector got back on a track of slow growth after a nearly flat trend throughout much of the year. Each of the four component industries within health care and social assistance added between 100 and 400 jobs during December.

Leisure and hospitality cut only 1,300 jobs when a loss of 2,200 is the normal seasonal pattern for the month. This better-than-expected showing helped offset weaker employment readings the prior two months.

Manufacturing cut 1,100 jobs in December when no change was expected due to seasonal factors. Nondurable goods manufacturing cut 1,700 jobs, with its food manufacturing component cutting 800.

Over the longer term, manufacturing employment has hovered just below 170,000 jobs, on a seasonally adjusted basis, throughout the second half of 2012. The industry is up only modestly from its recent low point of 161,900 in October 2009.

Construction employment was flat on a seasonally adjusted basis in December. Despite recent growth in Oregon's residential building permits, construction employment has remained relatively stable at close to 70,000 jobs during the past three years.