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Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Remained at a Record Low of 3.8 Percent in September

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in September, the same as in August. These were Oregon’s lowest unemployment rates since comparable records began in 1976. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 3.9 percent in August to 3.7 percent in September.

Oregon’s labor market was unusually tight in September, as indicated not only by the low unemployment rate, but also by the low number of Oregonians who are considered “short-term unemployed.” In September, 80,000 Oregonians were unemployed. Of those, 16,000 had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more (“long-term unemployed”), and 64,000 had been unemployed for less than 27 weeks (“short-term unemployed”). The number of short-term unemployed was quite low historically and was well below levels seen at the end of the prior expansion in 2006 and 2007, when an average of 86,000 people were categorized as short-term unemployed.

In September, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by a modest 300 jobs, following a revised gain of 2,400 jobs in August. Monthly gains in September were concentrated in leisure and hospitality (+900 jobs) and professional and business services (+800 jobs). These gains were offset by losses in retail trade (-1,300 jobs) and wholesale trade (-800 jobs).

Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment increased by 40,200 jobs, or 2.1 percent, since September 2017. This growth rate is very close to the 2.2 percent annual growth rate the state has experienced over the prior 21 months, cooling off from the 3.0 percent average annual growth rate seen during the prior three years dating back to 2013.

More than one-quarter of Oregon’s payroll employment growth over the past 12 months was in the construction industry, which added 11,100 jobs, expanding by 11.2 percent. Over the year, no other industry has grown nearly as fast as construction. Next in line are three major industries that each grew by close to 3 percent: leisure and hospitality(+6,600 jobs, or 3.2%); other services (+2,000 jobs, or 3.1%); and professional and business services (+7,400 jobs, or 3.0%). Several industries remained close to their year-ago job totals, including information (+100 jobs, or 0.3%); government (-200 jobs, or -0.1%); retail trade (-700 jobs, or -0.3%); and wholesale trade (-300 jobs, or -0.4%).