A Quick Overview of Oregon’s Labor Force in 2016

A Quick Overview of Oregon’s Labor Force in 2016

by Nick Beleiciks

March 9, 2017

Oregon’s 2016 annual average labor force figures have arrived. Here’s a quick overview of the numbers.

Total population = 4,093,000

  • Civilian noninstitutional population, 16 years and over = 3,274,000
    • Civilian labor force = 2,061,000
      • Employed = 1,960,000
      • Unemployed = 101,000
    • Not in labor force = 1,213,000
  • Under 16 years old, on active duty in the military, or living in an institutional setting = 819,000
The 819,000 people are not counted in the labor force statistics because they are not likely to participate in the labor market since they are under 16 years old, on active duty in the military, or living in an institutional setting, such as a correctional institution or a residential nursing or mental health facility.

The 1,213,000 who are not in the labor force are not actively looking for work. Half of these people are retired, one-eighth have a disability that is keeping them out of the labor force, and the rest have some other reason for not looking for work. The other reason is usually because they are taking care of family or are enrolled in school full-time, but it could be anything from waiting for a seasonal job to start, to believing they couldn’t find a job if they looked for one.

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed divided by the labor force, so 101,000/2,061,000 = 4.9 percent. This annual average rate for 2016 tied with 1995 as a record low for Oregon going back to 1976, the earliest we have comparable records. See the full history on

Another key indicator is the labor force participation rate, which is the civilian labor force divided by the civilian noninstitutional population, 16 years and over, so 2,061,000/3,274,000 = 63.0 percent. The labor force participation rate receives more attention than it used to because it’s on a downward trend in Oregon and the U.S. The downward trend is caused by more baby boomers reaching retirement age and leaving the labor force, which was predicted by labor economists, and fewer teenagers (16 to 19 years) joining the labor force than in past generations. See more in our report Oregon’s Falling Labor Force Participation: A Story of Baby Boomers, Youth, and the Great Recession.