Hard hat

The state reported that Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.0 percent in July, the same as the revised June rate of 4.0 percent.

This was Oregon’s lowest unemployment rate in the current series dating back to 1976. It tied the 4.0 percent unemployment rate reached in the state in May, June, and July 2018. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in both June and July 2019.

In July, Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment added 2,400 jobs, following an over-the-month loss of 1,000 jobs, as revised, in June. Monthly gains for July were strongest in professional and business services (+1,300 jobs); health care and social assistance (+1,100); and construction (+800). Two industries cut more than 1,000 jobs in July: leisure and hospitality (-1,100 jobs) and government (-1,300).

Newly revised payroll employment figures show that there was minimal growth of only 2,000 jobs between December 2018 and March 2019, which was much weaker growth in the first quarter of 2019 than was originally estimated. Oregon’s total nonfarm employment for March is now pegged at 1,931,900 jobs.

Looking at longer-term trends, the new numbers show Oregon’s economy growing moderately for quite some time. Since July 2018, total nonfarm payroll employment was up 29,600 jobs, or 1.6 percent. In fact, Oregon’s over-the-year job growth has averaged 1.6 percent during the past 16 months.

The most rapid gains since July 2018 were in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+4,500 jobs, or 7.0%) and construction (+4,500 jobs, or 4.3%). Construction’s growth rate, although still rapid, has slowed from the 8.2 percent annual growth it averaged in 2015 through 2018.

Several industries contributed to Oregon’s expansion since last July, including health care and social assistance (+8,200 jobs, or 3.2%); manufacturing (+5,000 jobs, or 2.6%); and professional and business services (+5,500 jobs, or 2.2%). However, six major industries were nearly flat or down over the past 12 months, led by retail trade (-2,800 jobs, or -1.3%) and information (-1,500 jobs, or -.4%).

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