SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The unemployment rate in Oregon has dipped below 8 percent for the first time since the nation fell sharply into the Great Recession in the fall of 2008.
The Oregon Employment Department said Tuesday the state unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in May and, after a revision, 7.9 percent in April.
The department reported Tuesday that job gains have been strong recently in construction as well as in the trade, transportation and utilities sectors.
Economists say the job gains help to reduce the unemployment rate.
But, they say, the rate also is falling because the percentage of the population in the labor force is dropping. Retiring baby boomers are a significant reason for that.
More information, in news release from the Oregon Employment Department:
On a seasonally adjusted basis, preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate nonfarm payroll employment in Oregon rose by 3,800 jobs in May.
Large gains in construction (+1,600 jobs) and trade, transportation, and utilities (+900) were partially offset by a drop in manufacturing (-800). Revised estimates for April show a gain of 2,700 jobs, when a gain of 3,700 was initially reported.
The BLS estimates that construction employment rose by 1,600 in May, when a gain of only 300 is the normal seasonal movement. The construction employment estimates for recent months indicate that the industry ramped up hiring over the first five months of the year at the fastest pace in more than three years.
Seasonally adjusted construction employment reached 72,900 in May. This was well above its recent low of 67,200, which was reached in several months of 2010. Despite job gains in recent months, the industry remains far below it pre-recession high of 105,400 reached in mid-2007.
Manufacturing was expected to add 1,600 jobs in May due to normal seasonal factors, but added only 800 instead. This subpar performance followed strong gains during the first four months of the year. The trend over the past three years has been one of gradual recovery.
Nondurable goods manufacturing added 600 jobs within food manufacturing in May. Nondurable goods employed nearly 50,000 in May, which was close to its levels for the time of year during the mid-2000s.
The BLS estimates that hiring in durable goods manufacturing was relatively quiet in May, with a drop of 200 jobs. All of the published components within durable goods saw virtually no change in employment for the month.
Economists with the BLS estimate that trade, transportation, and utilities added 3,000 jobs in May, at a time of year when a gain of 2,100 was expected due to seasonal factors. The industry is now about half-way back to the peak reached in early 2008, from its trough in early 2010. Employment totaled 318,800 in May, which was up 5,000 from May 2012.
Hours and Earnings
(Establishment Survey Data)
The average workweek for Oregon manufacturing production workers declined from 41.6 hours in April to 41.2 in May. Despite the one-month drop, the manufacturing workweek has been on a generally increasing trend for more than three years. In May 2012, this workweek averaged 39.9 hours.
In May, the average wage was $22.24 per hour for Oregon's private-sector payroll employees, down from $22.39 in April. Wages have increased 13 cents, or 0.6 percent, from May 2012 when the average was $22.11.
(Household Survey Data)
The national unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in May and 7.5 percent in April, while Oregon's rate was 7.8 percent in May and 7.9 percent in April. Oregon's May rate was two-tenths of a percent above the national rate, the closest it has been since March 2008.
In May, 146,388 Oregonians were unemployed. This was 18,820 fewer individuals than in May 2012, when 165,208 Oregonians were unemployed.