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'It will be weeks before we can accurately quantify the extent of the damage to Oregon's labor market'

Oregon's unemployment rate was 3.3% in January and February, the lowest rate on comparable records dating back to 1976, according to a press release from the Oregon Employment Department on Tuesday, March 17. The national unemployment rate in February was 3.5%

"It's too early to have data showing the employment impact, but the response to COVID-19 is causing a reduction in economic activity both nationally and in Oregon," Nick Beleiciks, the systems and economic analysis manager at the Oregon Employment Department, states in the release. "It will be weeks before we can accurately quantify the extent of the damage to Oregon's labor market."

Oregon's labor force data for February shows little effect from the spread of the coronavirus since the rate for February is based on employment activity during the week that included Feb. 12. The monthly unemployment rate is always based on a person's employment status for the week that includes the 12th of each month, the release points out.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 3,100 jobs in February, following a loss of 300 jobs in January. Two industries added more than 1,000 jobs in February: construction (+1,700) and professional and business services (+1,300). Only manufacturing cut jobs substantially (-500).

Oregon's nonfarm payroll employment increased by 26,000 jobs, or 1.4%, over the year since February 2019.


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