Oregon Jobs Recovery Continues as Unemployment Rate Falls to 4.9%


Oregon’s unemployment rate had another significant drop, from 5.2% in July to 4.9% in August.

Here’s a few quick stats from the Oregon Employment Department:

  • The number of unemployed Oregonians fell by 6,500 over the month.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.4% in July, and fell to 5.2% in August.
  • Oregon’s unemployment rate improved from its all-time high of 13.2% to below 4.9% in 17 months.
  • By comparison, after peaking at 12.3% during the Great Recession, it took Oregon’s unemployment rate more than six years (80 months) to drop below 5%.

Oregon’s unemployment rate has only been below 5.0% during two other periods of time; both were among the strongest economic expansion times in the state.

Oregon’s jobs recovery continued in August, and the labor market continued to tighten. Employers added 7,900 jobs to nonfarm payrolls. As of August, Oregon has regained 72% of the jobs lost in the spring of 2020, compared with 76% for the U.S.

Employers continue adding jobs to their payrolls at a relatively fast pace. Oregon added more than 80,000 jobs in the past 8 months.

Government added 3,500 jobs in August. These gains were concentrated in local government, reflecting public K-12 schools and public higher education staffing up for the school year and the return of in-person instruction.

Other sectors with large gains over the month included wholesale trade (+1,400 jobs), leisure and hospitality (+1,200), and professional and business services (+1,000). Leisure and hospitality employers have added as many jobs in the past 8 months as they did in the five years (61 months) leading up to the pandemic.

Within professional and business services, the professional and technical services (architectural, engineering, computer systems design) has been the strongest part of the economy coming out of the recession. These employers had 4,300 more jobs in August 2021 than they did in February 2020.

The only broad area of Oregon’s economy to lose jobs in August was retail trade, which dropped 1,900 jobs. Although retail has regained 9 out of 10 jobs lost in the spring of 2020, this August was the second month of job losses in retail.


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