Oregon’s unemployment rate edged down to 6.1% in February, from 6.2% in January, according to the Oregon Employment Department.
After dropping rapidly during May through November of last year, Oregon’s unemployment rate declined at a slower pace in recent months. During the past 10 months the pace of recovery in the national unemployment rate has mirrored Oregon’s experience. The U.S. unemployment rate also declined by a tenth of a percentage point last month, to 6.2% in February, from 6.3% in January.
Nonfarm payroll employment rose 13,900 jobs in February, following a gain of 7,000, as revised, in January. Nearly all of the jobs gained in February were in leisure and hospitality (+11,100 jobs), where some fitness centers and restaurants hired back workers following closures or curtailments due to COVID-19 restrictions or cautions. Only two other major industries added a substantial number of jobs in February: transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+1,200 jobs) and wholesale trade (+800). Only one major industry — professional and business services, which cut 900 jobs in February — performed substantially below its normal seasonal trend.
In February, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment totaled 1,819,100, a drop of 153,900 jobs, or 7.8% from the pre-recession peak one year ago in February 2020. Oregon’s employment dropped to a low of 1,687,500 by April. Since then, Oregon has recovered 131,600 jobs, or 46% of the jobs lost between February and April 2020.
Even as overall economic activity hasn’t recovered fully, some industries reached record high employment in February. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities is up 5,300 jobs, or 7.2%, over the year. Professional and technical services hit a fresh record high for the first time in over a year as it added 600 jobs since February 2020, a gain of 0.6%. Architectural and engineering services expanded the fastest of the published industries in this category, adding 700 jobs, or 4.0%.