STATE JOBLESS RATE UNCHANGED

July 29, 2000 12:00 am

SALEM Oregons seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5 percent in June, still well below the 5.9 percent rate of a year ago.

Meanwhile, the nations unemployment rate was little changed in June, said the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The nations rate declined slightly from 4.1 percent in May to 4 percent in June.

A total of 92,100 Oregonians were estimated to be unemployed in June, a month in which many students leave school for the summer and enter the labor force to seek work, officials said.

Every year since 1996, unemployment in Oregon has increased between May and June by more than 10,000 workers, officials said. However, the number of unemployed workers typically declines during the following four months by as much as or more than the June increase.

Both the states number of unemployed workers and its civilian labor force increased in June, with the labor force reaching 1,830,500, its highest level ever.

Population growth is partly responsible, officials said. Although slower than in the early 1990s, Oregons recent and projected population growth remains faster than that of the nation.

Combined with a sizable group of young people 15 to 19 years of age who are now in secondary and post-secondary schools and are no doubt already beginning to flow into the labor force, this faster-than-U.S. population growth is likely to bolster Oregons labor force numbers at least until the vanguard of the baby boom generation enters traditional retirement age at the end of this decade, officials said.

Oregon is not alone in its relatively rapid population growth. Many states in the Northeast and Midwest lag the national growth rate while states in the South, Rocky Mountains, and West tend to be growing more rapidly.

Fortunately for Oregons workers, Junes level of total nonfarm payroll employment in the state is 20,900 jobs (+1.3percent) higher than a year ago, approximately in line with the estimated rate of population growth in the state.

Oregons total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 6,300 jobs to reach 1,604,800 in June.

The increase was a little smaller than typical for the month, due to a net reduction of 3,000 federal government jobs as many census workers completed their tasks. Employment also declined between May and June by 3,200 jobs in local public schools and by 5,200 jobs in private sector educational services.

As schools closed for the summer, some industries entered their busy season.

Food and kindred products manufacturing added 2,600 jobs in June to reach a total of 24,200, higher by 700 than last Junes employment. The construction industry added 2,600 jobs to reach a total of 85,200, up by 1,100 higher from last Junes figure despite rising interest rates.

Construction job growth over the past year has been a bit slower in Oregon than in the U.S., but construction jobs as a share of all jobs remained slightly higher in Oregon than in the U.S.

Hotels and lodging places added 1,400 jobs in June for a total of 23,800, equal to last Junes employment. Eating and drinking places (mostly restaurants) gained 1,300 jobs, but are 1,800 below a year ago.

Local government employment, other than that in education and tribal government, was up by 1,300 in June, a typical seasonal jump due partly to summer recreation programs and various maintenance efforts. And the lumber and wood products industry gained 500 jobs, mostly in logging and sawmills; this is less than normal for June, and the industrys 48,700 jobs are 1,300 below the year-ago level.

Intels announcement that it plans to build a new research facility in Oregon that could employ more than 6,000 workers within 15 years ,comes at a time when a major component of the states high technology industries is achieving recovery from a downturn that began in the summer of 1998, officials said.

After hitting a high point of 36,900 employees in June 1998, Oregons electronic and other electrical equipment industry declined to a low of 35,400 by May 1999.

Although growth was unsteady in the months following May 1999, the industry surpassed its prior peak by reaching 37,000 jobs in May 2000 and added another 900 jobs in June.

Merix Corporations announcement this week of a major new investment in its Forest Grove circuit board manufacturing facilities provides an indication that other parts of the high technology sector may be strengthening as well, officials said.

The recent announcements bode well for continued expansion of Oregons high technology presence in the world economy. They also contrast with Alcoas announcement of the closure of its Troutdale aluminum plant and recent weakness in the lumber and wood products industry in Oregon such as the closure of the Willamette Industries plywood mill in Dallas, west of Salem, officials said.