County economist: Area seeing second-longest run of low numbers in quarter century

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Washington County continues its near-record-setting run of months with extremely low unemployment rates. Washington County's historic run of low unemployment continues, according to a county economist.

The county's unemployment rate remained at 3.4 percent in April 2018, unchanged from the prior year. Some cities saw small increases in unemployment rates over the year, but remained under 4 percent when not seasonally adjusted.

"Washington County has been at 3.4 percent unemployment for all of 2018 thus far," said Emily Starbuck, Washington County workforce analyst. "The county has been at or below 3.5 percent for seven months. The first half of 2017 was also at or below 3.5 percent, but a bump up to 3.6 percent last summer broke the streak. Either way, the current run of low unemployment is the second longest since 1990."

That year, 1990, was the earliest available monthly data, she said.

"The last time unemployment was this low for a sustained period of time in Washington County was over 20 years ago," Starbuck said. "Unemployment was at or below 3.5 percent for 18 months straight from August 1994 to January 1996."

Tigard and Hillsboro lead the way with 3.1 percent unemployment. Tualatin comes in next at 3.2 percent, followed by Beaverton with 3.3 percent and Sherwood with 3.5 percent."

The county added 4,200 jobs between April 2017 and April 2018. Transportation and warehousing led industry employment growth, and manufacturing added the most jobs over the year. A legislatively mandated reclassification of home care workers from state government to private health care influenced growth in education and health services and decline in government employment.

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