The latest figures indicate that Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has generally been on a declining trend for nearly three years, after reaching a high point of 11.6 percent in May and June 2009. At 8.6 percent in March, it has not been lower since November 2008, when Oregon's rate was 8.4 percent.
Oregon's seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment was nearly unchanged in March, as it dropped by 300, following a decline of 2,800 in February.
In March, two of the major industry categories added close to 1,000 jobs: trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,000 jobs) and other services (+900). These gains were checked by declines of 800 jobs apiece in government, professional and business services, and educational and health services.
Trade, transportation, and utilities added 1,400 jobs in March, when a gain of only 400 is the normal seasonal pattern. Both wholesale trade and retail trade added slightly more jobs than anticipated, while transportation, warehousing, and utilities added 500. This broad sector has continued its moderate economic expansion for more than two years.
Leisure and hospitality is coming off its low point of the year, which is typically January. In January, it employed 157,700. By March, the industry was up to 162,100 jobs. Last summer, it peaked at 175,500, so look for leisure and hospitality to rise above 177,000 jobs by the end of the summer if recent trends continue. Food services and drinking places ramped up employment over the past two years. It was up 3,900 jobs or 3.3 percent since March 2011.
Government employment performed below normal seasonal expectations in March with a gain of only 600 jobs at a time of year when a gain of 1,400 is the norm. Over the past 12 months, federal government has seen steep cutbacks, with employment down 900 since March 2011. Meanwhile, local government education was far below its year-ago figure as well, as 4,500 jobs have been cut over the 12 months through March 2012.
Showing an opposite trend to their local government counterparts, state government education gained 1,000 jobs from March of last year to March 2012. Meanwhile, the rest of state government cut 1,000 jobs over that period, leaving overall state government employment flat over the year.