Economy — Despite jobs lost, market still improving, more long-term unemployed Oregonians finding work

Although there were 4,300 Oregon jobs lost in June, the percentage wasn’t enough to effect the unemployment rate, which remains at 6.8 percent statewide.

“Over short periods of time it’s not unusual to see one move without the other moving, or to even see payroll and unemployment move in different directions. How­ever, they follow each other over the long term,” Nick Beleiciks, state employment economist, said in an email. “Over the last year we saw the expected pattern of payroll jobs growing by 39,400 and the unemployment rate falling 1.0 percentage point.”

June job losses are mostly due to a decline in construction jobs, but Beleiciks said the numbers don’t necessarily indicate a trend.

“Construction had months of record hiring earlier in the year, but didn’t hire as many workers in June as they normally do,” he said. “Construction is still the fastest growing sector in Oregon when looking at the jobs added in the past 12 months.”

The health care and social assistance industries continued to have strong job growth with 1,800 added jobs.

“Financial activities, which includes banking, insurance and real estate, is the only major sector not seeing any real job recovery,” Beleiciks said.

Despite the month’s decline, he said the market is still improving overall.

“Having a one- or two-month loss in jobs during a recovery is not unusual, and there wasn’t anything in the June numbers to suggest we won’t return the job growth we’ve been seeing,” he said. “It generally takes about three months of job gains or losses to signal a change in the overall trend.”

To put the data in perspective, Oregon added nearly 44,000 jobs for 11 consecutive months before the 4,300 lost jobs in June. That equates a loss of 0.09 percent of the jobs gained.

“Despite the June job losses, Oregon continues to add jobs at a faster pace than the nation, growing 2.4 percent over the year compared with the U.S. growth rate of 1.8 percent,” Beleiciks said.

There is also good news for the number of unemployed Oregonians who have been out of work for six months or more.

“(That number) fell to the lowest level since December 2008,” Beleiciks said. “Although Oregon’s unemployment rate has been falling for a number of years, the share of the unemployed who were long-term unemployed has stayed relatively high. Roughly 28 percent of the unemployed in June had been searching for a job at least six months or longer, the smallest share since 2009, which was another sign of improvement we’ve been waiting for.”

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