Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Strong Job Gains in March and April
by David Cooke
Published May-19-2014

 
Oregon's seasonally adjusted job gain of 6,100 in April followed an even stronger gain of 8,900 in March. This two-month increase of 15,000 was the largest such growth since December 2005 when 15,100 jobs were added over the last two months of that year.

The rapid growth over the past two months reflects an accelerating pace of economic expansion. Oregon is adding jobs at a faster pace than the nation, growing 2.6 percent over the year compared with the U.S. growth rate of 1.7 percent. Oregon is still behind the U.S. in returning to pre-recession employment levels because Oregon lost a larger share of jobs during the recession and Oregon's job growth rate was slower earlier in the recovery.

Since April 2013, the private sector added 41,100 jobs, or 3.0 percent. During that time, seven of the 12 major private-sector industries grew at close to 2.5 percent. However, a couple of industries stood out with more robust gains over the past 12 months. Construction added 8,000 jobs, which is a 10.9 percent gain. Meanwhile, professional and business services added 8,500 jobs, or 4.1 percent.

Breaking construction down into its component industries shows that most of construction grew at more than 10 percent over the past 12 months. Painters, drywallers and flooring contractors are included in the industry growing the fastest -building finishing contractors - which added 1,900 jobs, or 20.2 percent.

Job gains for the month of April were widespread, with most of the service-providing industries each adding between 500 and 1,600 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. Payroll additions were largest in these industries: professional and business services (+1,600 jobs), health care and social assistance (+1,400), and leisure and hospitality (+1,100).

Only two major industries cut a substantial number of jobs in April. Construction shed 900 jobs. Financial activities, which includes banking, insurance, and real estate, also cut 900 jobs.

Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in April, the same as the 6.9 percent in March. Even though there was no change over the month, Oregon's unemployment rate dropped significantly, by a full percentage point, since April 2013 when the rate was 7.9 percent.

Oregon's labor force participation rate remained low in April as the number of retirees rose substantially in recent years. Oregon's seasonally adjusted labor force participation rate was 61.1 percent in April, which was close to its reading over the past eight months and at a record low since the comparable data series began in 1976.