The latest figures indicate that Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been on a declining trend for almost three years, after reaching a high of 11.6 percent in May and June 2009. At 8.4 percent in May, it has not been this low since November 2008, when Oregon's rate was also 8.4 percent.
Oregon's seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 6,900 in May. The April figure was revised upward to show a gain of 3,100 jobs. In May, six of the 10 major private-sector industries posted large seasonally adjusted job gains. These gains were partially offset by declines in construction (-1,800 jobs) and leisure and hospitality (-1,300).
Trade, transportation, and utilities added 5,100 jobs in May, when a gain of 1,700 was expected due to seasonality. This spike put the industry slightly above its 1.5 percent annual growth trend seen over the past two years. Despite these recent gains, this industry, which makes up nearly one-fifth of total payroll employment, has only recovered about one-third of its losses that occurred during 2008 and 2009. In May, both wholesale trade (+1,400 jobs) and retail trade (+2,900) added more jobs than normal for the month.
Professional and business services added 1,900 jobs when a flat trend is typical for May. From October 2010 through March 2012, seasonally adjusted employment was flat, near 185,000. But in the past two months, employment rose to 189,000. A component industry, employment services, shot up 1,600 in May, which was more than its typical increase for the month.
Manufacturing spiked upward by 2,000 jobs in May, well above its typical gain of 300 for the month. Despite the large one-month gain, it is still 300 below its year-ago figure. Durable goods manufacturing added 1,100 jobs in May and is up 300 over the year. Most of its component industries were each up between 200 and 900 jobs over the past 12 months. The exception was wood product manufacturing, which cut 1,100 since May 2011.
Government added only 3,400 jobs in May when a gain of 3,900 was expected due to normal seasonal factors. Federal government added 300, but this was below its typical hiring heading into the peak summer employment season for natural-resource based agencies. Local government also continued to post employment patterns below seasonal norms, as has been the case over the past four years.
In recent months, government declines were in contrast to modest job gains in much of the private sector. Over the past 12 months, all of the major industries within the private service-providing sectors added jobs, ranging from 900 added in financial activities, to 7,300 added in trade, transportation, and utilities. Meanwhile, private goods-producing sectors declined modestly.