November unemployment drops to 3.9%
Oregon's unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% in November, the lowest on comparable records dating back to 1976. The October unemployment rate was 4.0%, as revised from the originally reported figure of 4.1%.
In November, Oregon's unemployment rate dropped below 4% for the first time since comparable records dating back to 1976. This puts the rate slightly above the November U.S. rate of 3.5%. Oregon's unemployment rate has been hovering near historic lows of near 4% for the past 37 months.
Meanwhile, total nonfarm payroll employment shot up by 6,300 jobs in November, following an upwardly revised gain of 6,500 jobs in October. October was revised upward by 2,100 jobs.
So far in 2019, monthly employment gains have averaged 2,600 jobs, which is slightly slower than in 2018 when monthly growth averaged 3,000 jobs.
The tight labor market, and perhaps the unusually mild and dry weather in November, seem to have influenced seasonal trends in the major industries. Industries that normally shed a lot of workers during the autumn months didn't cut back as much as normal. In November, the following industries cut back less than normal, and therefore posted seasonally adjusted job gains: construction (+2,200 jobs), manufacturing (+1,900 jobs), and professional and business services (+1,400 jobs).
On the flip side, the tight labor market may have inhibited certain industries from hiring as many workers as normal in November. Government and retail trade both normally add a substantial number of jobs in November, but each industry hired a few hundred jobs fewer than normal for the month.
Oregon's over-the-year job growth of 1.6% closely matched the U.S. job growth of 1.5%. Most of Oregon's major industries have expanded by about 2% since November 2018. The primary exception of an industry growing faster was education and health services, which grew by 9,900 jobs, or 3.3%. Conversely, the only major industry that contracted substantially over the past 12 months was retail trade, which cut 1,800 jobs, or -0.9%.
November county rates have not yet been released, but in October, Jefferson County's unemployment rate was stable at 5.3%. The rate was largely unchanged from this time last year when it was 5.5%.
Jefferson County lost 50 jobs in October, a fairly typical pattern this time of year.
Similar to the other counties in the region, the employment estimates were revised upward. Employment levels were up 1.2% from October last year, a gain of 80 jobs. Most industries added jobs over the past year, with manufacturing (+50 jobs) and government (+60) posting the largest gains. There was a notable loss of 100 jobs in professional and business services.
In Crook County, the unemployment rate was 5.5% in October, essentially unchanged from 5.6% in September. The rate was 6.0% at the same time last year, not a statistically significant difference.
Crook County shed 90 jobs in October, typical losses for the time of year. Recent revisions from payroll tax records revealed that employment growth was stronger than initially estimated through the summer months. Employment levels were up 2.6% from October
last year (+160 jobs). Growth was largely concentrated in wholesale trade, transportation, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality. There were small losses in retail trade and private education and health services.
The picture was better in Deschutes County. The unemployment rate was 4.1% in October and 4.2% in September. The rate remains largely unchanged for over three years.
Deschutes County added 100 jobs in October. Hiring was up noticeably on a seasonally adjusted basis in October, as the county typically posts job losses this time of year.
Recent revisions were significant in Deschutes County. Previous estimates were based on payroll records through March 2019, a month with notably low employment due to the significant snow event.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.