Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.7 Percent in December

Posted on January 22, 2020

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent in December, the lowest on comparable records dating back to 1976. The November unemployment rate was 3.9 percent.

“The latest estimates suggest there are fewer unemployed Oregonians now than at any point since 1976, when comparable records begin. That’s especially striking considering Oregon’s labor force is twice as large as it was 44 years ago,” said Nick Beleiciks, Systems and Economic Analysis manager at the Oregon Employment Department.

In December, many of Oregon’s workforce metrics set records, indicating an increasingly tight labor market. The number of people who were unemployed for less than half a year dropped to the lowest level in at least 18 years. The number of people who were unemployed due to a layoff also dropped to the lowest level in the past two decades. The broadest measure of labor underutilization, called “U-6”, came in at the lowest on records dating back nearly two decades. This measure includes the unemployed, plus those who want a full-time job but who were working part-time due to the economy.

Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 800 jobs in December, following a gain of 3,800 jobs, as revised, in November. December gains were strongest in leisure and hospitality (+2,000 jobs). In addition, several industries added between 300 and 500 jobs. Meanwhile, two industries declined by more than 500 jobs: health care and social assistance (-900 jobs) and professional and business services (-1,600 jobs).

Oregon’s over-the-year job growth of 1.4 percent equaled the U.S. job growth of 1.4 percent. Most of Oregon’s major industries expanded by between 1 percent and 3 percent since December 2018. The fastest growing industries in the past 12 months were private educational services (+1,300 jobs, or 3.6%) and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+2,100 jobs, or 3.0%). In that time only two industries cut jobs: retail trade (-700 jobs, or -0.3%) and mining and logging (-300 jobs, or -4.2%).

Next Press Releases

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the December county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, January 28th, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for January on Tuesday, March 3rd. At the time of the March 3rd press release all of the statewide employment and unemployment data will be revised for at least the prior two years. This is a normal part of the annual processing and revisions to these data.


All numbers in the above narrative are seasonally adjusted, except for Mr. Beleiciks’s quote which is referring to the not seasonally adjusted unemployed.

The Oregon Employment Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) work cooperatively to develop and publish monthly Oregon payroll employment and labor force data. The estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. The estimates of unemployment are based on a survey of households and other sources.

The Oregon Employment Department publishes payroll employment estimates that are revised quarterly by using employment counts from employer unemployment insurance tax records. All department publications use this Official Oregon Series data unless noted otherwise. This month’s release incorporates the April, May, and June 2019 tax records data. The department continues to make the original nonfarm payroll employment series available; these data are produced by the BLS.

The PDF version of the news release, including tables and graphs, can be found at www.QualityInfo.org/press-release. To obtain the data in other formats such as in Excel, visit www.QualityInfo.org, then within the top banner, select Economic Data, then choose LAUS or CES. To request the press release as a Word document, contact the person shown at the top of this press release.

For help finding jobs and training resources, visit one of the state’s WorkSource Oregon centers or go to: www.WorkSourceOregon.org.

Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

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