Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Oregon's Unemployment Rate Dropped in March, as Payroll Employment Grew
by David Cooke
Published Apr-23-2013

Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in March - the lowest rate since October 2008 when the rate was 7.7 percent. The March rate was down from 8.3 percent in February. The February rate was originally reported as 8.4 percent.

In March, 167,706 Oregonians were unemployed. This was 19,652 fewer individuals than in March 2012 when 187,358 Oregonians were unemployed.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, nonfarm payroll employment in Oregon rose by 1,900 jobs in March. The private sector added 2,700 jobs over the month, while the public sector cut 800. Each of the past four months saw gains, with monthly increases particularly strong in January (+5,400 jobs) and February (+6,600). The average increase from December to March was 3,800 jobs per month.

Two major industries recently regained record employment levels after suffering steep losses during the 2008-2009 recession.

Professional and business services, on a seasonally adjusted basis, added 400 jobs in March to reach 199,300. This put the industry at a record level, just surpassing its previous peak of 198,900 reached in April 2008. The industry's employment dropped sharply in the recession, losing 21,900 jobs, or 11 percent, in 16 months. Then, over the next three-and-one-half years it gained back that number of jobs and surpassed the former peak by March 2013.

Professional and business services accounts for nearly one out of eight nonfarm payroll jobs. It includes a wide array of services businesses including building maintenance, legal, engineering, computer systems design, management of companies, administrative, waste management, and temporary help services.

The other major industry that suffered steep job losses in recent years, but fully recovered into record territory is accommodation and food services. On a seasonally adjusted basis it added 1,200 jobs in March to reach 152,700. This was several hundred jobs above its pre-recession peak of 151,500 reached in March 2008. During the recession, this industry that includes restaurants and hotels lost 11,800 jobs, or nearly 8 percent, and reached its lowest level in December 2009. Over the past three years the industry's hiring accelerated, and in March reached its highest level ever.

In March, four major industries added at least 900 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis: construction (+1,600 jobs), leisure and hospitality (+1,300), educational and health services (+1,100), and manufacturing (+900). These gains were partially offset by substantial job losses in two major industries: trade, transportation, and utilities (-2,500 jobs) and government (-800).