Unemployment Update

Oregon’s unemployment rate edged down to 6.2 percent in January from 6.3 percent, as revised, in December. The state’s unemployment rate dropped by close to four tenths of a percentage point in each of the last three months of 2020, following more rapid declines during the prior five months. Oregon’s peak unemployment rate, as recently revised, was 13.2 percent in April 2020. The U.S. unemployment rate has also dropped rapidly since April, and reached 6.3 percent in January.

Nonfarm payroll employment rose 8,300 jobs in January, following a loss of 27,500 in December. Three industries each added close to 2,000 jobs in January: retail trade (+2,100 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+2,100); and private educational services (+1,900). Two of the major industries cut about 1,000 jobs: transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-1,000 jobs) and construction (-800).

Despite the net job gain in January, employment still remains substantially below pre-pandemic levels. Total nonfarm payroll employment has dropped 162,800 jobs, or 8.3 percent, since January 2020. Nearly all industries have cut jobs during that time. Leisure and hospitality is still down 76,800 jobs, or 35.6 percent, since January 2020.

Private educational services experienced the second largest percentage decline in that time, as it cut 8,400 jobs, or 22.6 percent. The only industry to add jobs in the past 12 months was transportation, warehousing and utilities, which added 4,100 jobs, or 5.6 percent.

Newly revised employment numbers show job growth was stronger than initially reported in the second half of 2020. The trend in the last six months of the year was revised upward by an average of 8,700 jobs. However, the pandemic-induced drop during the spring of 2020 was 8,000 jobs larger than previously estimated.

Manufacturing was looking better than the previous estimates indicated, with upward revisions of about 2,300 jobs during the last six months of 2020. Nondurable goods manufacturing has added 3,500 jobs since April. Similarly, wholesale trade employment was revised upward; it added 1,500 jobs since its spring-2020 low point.

Professional and technical services was also revised upward substantially. It employed 101,100 jobs in January, which was essentially equal to its high point of a year ago. For the December data, only three major industries were revised downward substantially due to the annual revisions: retail trade (-2,200 jobs); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-1,500); and private educational services (-1,500).


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