Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Construction is Picking Up
by David Cooke
Published Nov-22-2013

 
Construction activity picked up recently in Oregon. During the prior three years, Oregon's seasonally adjusted construction employment was mostly below 70,000. It shot up in recent months, reaching 76,400 in October. With this gain of 6,500 jobs, or 9.3 percent, over the most recent 12 months, the industry is growing faster than expected just a few months ago. Demand for homes is growing again from very low levels following the housing bust. Building permits have risen this year as well.

The monthly hours figures from the Current Employment Statistics survey are also flashing the green light for construction. Average weekly hours for construction payroll employees shot up to 38.5 in September and then edged back to 38.0 in October. The chart below shows how these readings were close to record highs over the past seven years. Changes in weekly hours are often considered a leading indicator. As the average workweek increases, employers can work their existing crews only a certain amount more before needing to hire new workers to keep up with demand. The upward movement in hours for Oregon construction workers is a positive sign, suggesting employment gains to come.

Graph 1
Oregon construction hours and employment