Oregon's economy is growing faster than the national average, according to new figures released by the Oregon Employment Department on Tuesday.

The number of jobs in Oregon increased 2.6 percent over the year, compared to the the U.S. job growth rate of 1.7 percent, the department said.

According to the department, Oregon's seasonally adjusted job gain of 6,100 in April followed an even stronger gain of 8,900 in March. This two-month increase of 15,000 jobs was the largest increase since December 2005, when 15,100 jobs were added over the last two months of that year.

Department officials say the rapid growth over the past two months reflects an accelerating pace of economic expansion. Oregon is still behind the U.S. in returning to pre-recession employment levels, however, because the state lost a larger share of jobs during the recession than the rest of the country and Oregon's job growth rate was slower earlier in the recovery.

The figures show that since April 2013, the private sector has added 41,100 jobs, or 3.0 percent. During that time, seven of the 12 major private-sector industries have grown at close to 2.5 percent.

The greatest growth occurred in construction, which added 8,000 jobs, for a 10.9 percent gain. Meanwhile, professional and business services added 8,500 jobs, or 4.1 percent.

Most of construction has grown at more than 10 percent over the past 12 months. Painters, drywallers and flooring contractors are included in the industry growing the fastest — building finishing contractors — which added 1,900 jobs, or 20.2 percent.

The department says that Job gains for the month of April were widespread, with most of the service-providing industries each adding between 500 and 1,600 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. Payroll additions were largest in these industries: professional and business services (+1,600 jobs), health care and social assistance (+1,400), and leisure and hospitality (+1,100).

Only two major industries lost a substantial number of jobs in April. Ironically, one of them was construction, which shed 900 jobs. Department officials do not consider the one month decline significant. Financial activities, which includes banking, insurance, and real estate, also cut 900 jobs.

These preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses and are subject to later revision.

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