Oregon's job growth in 2012 was not enough to fill in the deep hole dug by the recession (Graph 1), but growth was actually kind of average compared with the job growth seen each year since 2000. From November 2011 through November 2012, preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Oregon added 20,000 jobs, a growth rate of 1.2 percent. That rate of growth was well above the average growth rate for all years since 2000, which is not impressive because that average was close to zero. Job growth in 2012 was well below the average when compared with only years of job growth, but still ranked in the middle of this pack of growth years.
Oregon's unemployment rate fell slightly over the year, falling to 8.4 percent by November. The unemployment rate bounced around between 8.9 percent and 8.4 percent during 2012. The falling unemployment rate in the second half of the year was driven more by the shrinking labor force than by more people finding jobs. The average pay of those with jobs increased through the first half of 2012 at a faster pace than prices did, so annual wage gains in Oregon were ahead of inflation.
The employment figures used in this annual review are preliminary estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They will be revised as more complete information becomes available from employers, which could change the trends discussed here.
Oregon's other neighboring states grew faster. Idaho's job growth rate ranked 7th in the nation. California and Washington also added jobs faster than the nation as a whole.
The collapse of the housing market and fallout from the 2008 financial crisis were starting to wane in Oregon's real estate and banking industry as measured by employment in financial activities. After reaching a recessionary low in December 2011, the sector bounced back by adding 3,200 jobs over the year, a growth rate of 3.5 percent. More than one-third of the jobs in this sector are in the real estate industry, which housed most of the job growth.
Manufacturing finally saw a year of strong growth in 2012, adding 5,000 jobs. Durable goods manufacturing added 3,100 jobs, seeing growth in wood products, fabricated metal products, machinery, and computer and electronic products. Nondurable goods manufacturing added 1,900 jobs, most of which was in food manufacturing.
Professional and business services is a broad industry that includes legal, architectural, and computer services, management companies, and administrative and support services for businesses, among others. It added 4,300 jobs over the year for a growth rate of 2.3 percent. Employment services, the industry that includes temporary help agencies and is sometimes considered an indicator of future hiring, lost 400 jobs since November 2011.
Many Oregonians continued to have fun in 2012, as is evident from the 3,300 jobs added in the leisure and hospitality sector. Accommodation and food services added 2,300 jobs and 1,000 jobs were added in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry.
Oregon's largest sector - trade, transportation, and utilities - added 6,500 jobs over the year, a growth rate of 2.0 percent. Much of the growth in the sector was in the retail trade industry, which added 4,900 jobs. Wholesale trade added 1,700 jobs, but transportation, warehousing, and utilities hardly moved at all, losing 100 jobs since November 2011.
The information sector added 500 jobs for a growth rate of 1.5 percent. The sector includes publishing, motion picture and sound recording, broadcasting, telecommunications, and data processing services.
Private educational and health services was the only sector that seemed to avoid job losses during the recession, but it has not been doing as well during the recovery. The sector lost 400 jobs between November 2011 and November 2012.
Other services, the catch-all service sector which includes repair and maintenance businesses, personal and laundry services, and membership associations and organizations, was essentially unchanged over the year, losing 100 jobs.
The public sector suffered fewer job losses in 2012 than the year before. Government employers cut 1,400 jobs, a 0.5 percent reduction. Local education bore the brunt of the job cuts in 2011, but job losses in federal government led the cuts in 2012. State education facilities continued to grow, adding 400 jobs over the year.
Construction employment was nearly level in 2012, losing 600 jobs. The beleaguered industry saw growth in 2011, but not much change over the course of 2012.
Mining and logging lost 300 jobs between November 2011 and November 2012, a decrease of 4.3 percent and the largest percent decline of any major sector in Oregon.
|Most Oregon Industry Sectors Seeing Some Recovery|
|November 2011 to November 2012 Nonfarm Payroll Employment Change|
|Total nonfarm payroll employment||1,636,000||1,656,000||20,000||1.2%||21|
|Professional and business services||185,100||189,400||4,300||2.3%||23|
|Leisure and hospitality||161,300||164,600||3,300||2.0%||24|
|Trade, transportation, and utilities||321,500||328,000||6,500||2.0%||20|
|Private educational and health services||242,800||242,400||-400||-0.2%||45|
|Mining & Logging*||7,000||6,700||-300||-4.3%||34|
|* The U.S. rank for this industry is based on data for 44 states.|
|Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, not seasonally adjusted data.|
The unemployment rate fell from 9.1 percent in November 2011 to 8.4 percent in November 2012, although there was a slight increase during the summer (Graph 3). The number of unemployed Oregonians fell, but so did the number of people in the labor force.
Nearly every Oregon county saw improved unemployment rates over the year. The exceptions were Gilliam, Grant, and Sherman counties, which each saw slight increases. Some areas are doing better than the state average, while other areas are still suffering extremely high levels of unemployment. Unemployment rates vary dramatically among the counties, ranging from a high of 13.5 percent in Grant County to a low of 6.1 percent in Benton County in November 2012.
The average pay increases grew faster than inflation, as measured by the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Portland-Salem area, so the average Oregon worker saw real gains in her paycheck. The CPI rose 2.5 percent from the first half of 2011 to the first half of 2012.
If consumer prices in Oregon mirror national trends during the second half of 2012, it's likely that inflation will run just above 2 percent over the year.
Oregon's economy is expected to do slightly better than the U.S. in job growth over the next few years. The forecast expects job growth in most private sectors, but anticipates strong job growth of 3 percent or more in just a few: professional and business services, wood product manufacturing, and transportation, warehousing, and utilities. The forecast expects construction to add jobs in 2013 and see aggressive job growth starting in 2014.
Of course, projecting job growth into the future is very difficult. The forecast notes risks such as the continued European debt problems and financial instability, prolonged housing market instability, commodity price inflation, and the loss of federal timber payments to Oregon counties. The volatility in overseas markets could impact Oregon's economy in a good or bad way, depending on how things shake out, as could local and federal policy changes.