Oregon’s unemployment rate fell to 5.2% in July, from 5.6% in June.

That puts the state’s jobless rate slightly below the national rate of 5.4%, but still above the record low unemployment rates Oregon experienced prior to the pandemic.

For many businesses, July was the first month without state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions since the pandemic hit. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown lifted those health and safety restrictions on June 30. (She reimposed a statewide indoor mask mandate last week, as cases tied to the delta variant threatened to overwhelm hospitals.)

The Oregon Employment Department said the state’s jobless rate began dropping more quickly in June and July, after decreasing by only 0.1 percentage point for five months in a row.

Nonfarm payroll employment grew by 20,000 jobs in July, surpassing the average gains for the prior six months. The largest job growth was in government — primarily local government, including schools — and in leisure and hospitality.

“The big 20,000 monthly job gains is huge,” wrote Josh Lehner of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis in a blog post on Tuesday. “It means Oregon has recovered 70% of its initial pandemic job losses.”

While workplaces such as restaurants, gyms and hotels added more than 7,000 jobs in July, the leisure and hospitality sector was still down almost 45,000 jobs from Feb. 2020.

Oregon employers have reported record numbers of job vacancies, according to the Employment Department, and businesses are struggling to fill them. But the pandemic continues to throw obstacles in some workers’ paths.

The Employment Department said that, from April to June, more than 32,000 Oregonians were prevented from looking for work because of issues related to the pandemic, including child care problems. That figure includes households where all adults worked prior to the pandemic. For them, the child care barrier may remain until schools fully re-open.

Meanwhile, the option to telework has declined nationwide, according to the agency. In May 2020 about one-third of workers across the country could telework because of the pandemic. Last month, only 13% could.

August’s jobs report should show the delta variant’s effect on employment in the state. That report is due out Sept. 14 — shortly after federal pandemic benefits expire for tens of thousands of Oregonians.

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped from 5.8% in May to 5.6% in June, as the state continues to recover from the effects of the coronavirus from more than a year ago.

Oregon’s unemployment rate has gradually declined each month this year, after ending last year at 6.3%. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate ticked up from 5.8% in May to 5.9% in June. The employment data for Douglas County is scheduled to be released next Tuesday.

Despite the recent declines in Oregon’s unemployment rate, a large group of the unemployed have had difficulty regaining employment. The number of Oregonians unemployed for 52 weeks or more remains elevated at about 40,000 in June, compared with an average of about 8,000 during the three years prior to the recession, according to data released Tuesday by the Oregon Employment Department.

In Oregon, nonfarm payroll employment grew by 7,500 in June, following monthly gains averaging 10,100 in the prior five months. Monthly gains in June were largest in health care and social assistance (+2,400 jobs); other services (+1,700); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+1,000); leisure and hospitality (+1,000); and wholesale trade (+800).

Only one major industry shed more than 300 jobs in June — construction, which lost 900 jobs.

Leisure and hospitality accounts for the bulk of Oregon’s jobs not recovered since early 2020. It employed 169,500 in June, and added only 1,500 jobs in the most recent three months, the employment department said. The industry is still 46,800 jobs — or 22% — below its peak month of February 2020, so it accounts for 45% of overall nonfarm payroll jobs yet to recover from Oregon’s pre-recession peak.

Local government employed 208,900 people in June, which was 21,400 jobs below its pre-pandemic employment level of 230,300 in February 2020. With jobs still down by 9%, this industry has experienced the second largest percent reduction in that time, behind only leisure and hospitality, the employment department said.

Manufacturing employed 182,100 in June and remains substantially below its pre-recession total of 195,800 in February 2020. The industry was slowly declining in the second half of 2019, then plunged 15,700 jobs at the outset of the COVID-19 recession. The manufacturing industries dropping the largest percentage over the past 24 months include primary metals manufacturing (-3,300 jobs, or 36%), transportation equipment manufacturing (-2,100, or 16%) and fabricated metals manufacturing (-1,500, or 9%).

While most major industries still employ fewer workers than in February 2020, two industries have increased their employment levels throughout the past couple of years. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities added 4,400 jobs, or 6%, since prior to the recession. Similarly, state government gained 1,500 jobs, or 4%, in that time. Professional and technical services has also grown and now employs 3,100 jobs, or 3%, more than its pre-recession peak, the employment department said.

Scott Carroll can be reached at [email protected] or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

While Oregon’s unemployment rate has dropped in recent months, one sector is still lagging behind the others. 

Last month, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.6%, compared to 5.8% in May.  That’s slightly lower than the national rate, which is encouraging for Oregonians.

The biggest gains were in health care and social assistance. But while the leisure and hospitality sector added jobs, it’s still hurting compared to pre-pandemic levels according to state economist Gail Krumenauer.

“The sector is still 22% below where it was in February 2020. And has only added about 1,500 jobs over the past months. That is a difficult thing as we were heading into -and are now in- that summer hiring season and that tourism season.” 

Krumenauer said while many Oregonians have come back to work, many are going into transportation, warehousing, and utilities rather than leisure and hospitality.  June’s unemployment rate for Oregon is better than at the end of 2020, which was 6.3%. 

“This could be the strongest year of job growth that we’ve seen in decades,” Krumenauer told KLCC. “And we have seen that there is rapid hiring, happening. And that said, we need that rapid hiring to continue because we only regained 64% of the jobs that were lost in the spring of 2020.  So we still have a ways to go before we can close that gap.”

Oregon’s unemployment rate is also ahead of the national rate, which is 5.9%.

Krumenauer said that if anyone turns down work solely because they are getting more on unemployment benefits, that’s considered fraud, and should be reported by employers at https://app.smartsheetgov.com/b/form/7a927a47c1cf46059ea48cf5155164ca.

“There are still some Oregonians who have barriers getting back into the labor force, either because they are immunocompromised, they lack child care options during summer break from school, or other COVID-19 related reasons,” she added. “Between April and June, there was a monthly average of 32,500 Oregonians who indicated they were prevented from looking for work due to pandemic-related reasons.”

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Oregon’s unemployment rate improved in June — even as the national rate crept back up.

The state and national jobless rates were both the same in May: 5.8%. But in June, the U.S. unemployment rate crept up to 5.9%, while Oregon’s went down to 5.6%. The state’s improvement continues a trend that started in the beginning of 2021 in Oregon, when it was as high as 6.2%.

“Oregon has added back 64% of the jobs that were lost in spring 2020, compared with 70% for the U. S.,” said employment economist Gail Krumenauer with the Oregon Employment Department. “While that leaves a big gap to get back to pre-pandemic levels, hiring is happening quickly so far in 2021.”

Krumenauer said the state has added 57,000 jobs this year, but the pace of hiring slowed down a little in June. State employment officials point out that employers had been adding an average of 10,000 jobs per month since the beginning of 2021, but in June that shrank to about 7,500 additional jobs in the state.

State employment officials have been nudging people who’ve been relying on unemployment benefits in recent months to get back to work. They’ve re-established an emphasis on people searching for work by requiring participation in the state’s iMatchskills program.

The health care and social assistance sector was responsible for the greatest share of June job gains in Oregon, with 2,400 jobs created. But economic gains continue to be uneven across other sectors.

Employment officials note that some parts of the economy have bigger payrolls now than they did before the pandemic. Transportation and warehousing, state government and the “professional and technical services” sectors have all grown to employ slightly more workers than before the pandemic.

But the recovery is far from complete. Several big pieces of the Oregon economy continue to employ significantly fewer workers than they did before the pandemic. Leisure and hospitality is 22% below pre-pandemic employment levels, several facets of manufacturing are down double-digits from late 2019, and local government payrolls are down 9%.

And while some employers have said they’re having trouble finding workers, state employment officials noted that many out-of-work Oregonians have been in this situation for more than a year. The agency’s June count of the long-term unemployed found 40,000 people who’d been out of work for a year or more. Agency officials say that’s five times more than the average over the three years before the pandemic.

While Oregon’s unemployment rate has dropped in recent months, one sector is still lagging behind the others. 

Last month, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.6%, compared to 5.8% in May.  That’s slightly lower than the national rate, which is encouraging for Oregonians.

The biggest gains were in health care and social assistance. But while the leisure and hospitality sector added jobs, it’s still hurting compared to pre-pandemic levels according to state economist Gail Krumenauer.

“The sector is still 22% below where it was in February 2020. And has only added about 1,500 jobs over the past months. That is a difficult thing as we were heading into -and are now in- that summer hiring season and that tourism season.” 

Krumenauer said while many Oregonians have come back to work, many are going into transportation, warehousing, and utilities rather than leisure and hospitality.  June’s unemployment rate for Oregon is better than at the end of 2020, which was 6.3%. 

“This could be the strongest year of job growth that we’ve seen in decades,” Krumenauer told KLCC. “And we have seen that there is rapid hiring, happening. And that said, we need that rapid hiring to continue because we only regained 64% of the jobs that were lost in the spring of 2020.  So we still have a ways to go before we can close that gap.”

Oregon’s unemployment rate is also ahead of the national rate, which is 5.9%.

Krumenauer said that if anyone turns down work solely because they are getting more on unemployment benefits, that’s considered fraud, and should be reported by employers at https://app.smartsheetgov.com/b/form/7a927a47c1cf46059ea48cf5155164ca.

“There are still some Oregonians who have barriers getting back into the labor force, either because they are immunocompromised, they lack child care options during summer break from school, or other COVID-19 related reasons,” she added. “Between April and June, there was a monthly average of 32,500 Oregonians who indicated they were prevented from looking for work due to pandemic-related reasons.”

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week even while the economy and the job market appear to be rebounding from the coronavirus recession with sustained energy.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims increased by 2,000 from the previous week to 373,000. Weekly applications, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily this year from more than 900,000 at the start of the year.

In Oregon, regular claims jumped from about 6,000 the prior week to 6,600 last week, according to the preliminary federal figures. Claims have risen in each of the past two weeks after sharp declines since April.

It’s hard to know what to make of Oregon’s recent increase. The state’s jobless claims remained elevated for several weeks last spring even as the national numbers fell, a phenomenon the Oregon Employment Department said was partly the result of a high number of fraud attempts.

The Labor Department often makes significant revisions to each state’s claims numbers the following week, so it’s probably too soon to tell whether there has been any significant change in Oregon’s labor market.

The rollout of vaccinations is driving a potent economic recovery as businesses reopen, employers struggle to fill jobs and consumers emerge from months of lockdown to travel, shop and spend at restaurants, bars, retailers and entertainment venues.

In the first three months of the year, the government has estimated that the economy expanded at a brisk 6.4% annual rate. In the April-June quarter, the annual rate is thought to have reached a sizzling 10%. And for all of 2021, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that growth will amount to 6.7%. That would be the fastest calendar-year expansion since 1984.

The economy is recovering so quickly that many companies can’t find workers fast enough to meet their increased customer demand. On Wednesday, the government said that U.S. employers posted 9.21 million jobs in May, the most since record-keeping began in 2000.

And in June, employers added a strong 850,000 jobs, and hourly pay rose a solid 3.6% compared with a year ago — faster than the pre-pandemic annual pace and a sign that companies are being compelled to pay more to attract and keep workers.

Still, the nation remains 6.8 million jobs short of the level it had in February 2021, just before the coronavirus pandemic tore through the economy and eliminated tens of millions of jobs. And weekly applications for unemployment benefits, though down sharply from earlier peaks, are still comparatively high: Before the pandemic, they were typically coming in at only around 220,000 a week.

The total number of Americans receiving jobless aid, including supplemental federal checks that were intended to provide relief during the pandemic recession, amounted to 14.2 million people during the week of June 19, down from 33.2 million a year earlier.

Many states, though, have dropped the federal aid, responding to complaints that the generous benefits were discouraging some of the unemployed from

The Oregon Employment Department's Unemployment Insurance online claim system, pictured on Friday, April 17, 2020.

The Oregon Employment Department’s Unemployment Insurance online claim system, pictured on Friday, April 17, 2020.

Bryan M. Vance / OPB

The pandemic eliminated one in seven jobs in Oregon — a devastating blow over the course of two months that hobbled an otherwise healthy economy.

Multiple sectors, from hospitality to retail to private education services, were hit particularly hard, resulting in uneven job losses and disproportionate impact on people of color, low-wage earners and women.

Those are the conclusions of a new report from the Oregon Employment Department, “Disparate Impacts of the Pandemic Recession in Oregon.” While the findings are no surprise to anyone who has followed economic news about the pandemic, the report offers more detail into this unprecedented economic upheaval than the state had done to date.

The report begins with a fact that’s sometimes lost amid the national economic nosedive that began in March 2020: the winter of 2019-20 was one of Oregon’s strongest economic periods on record. The number of unemployed people — 77,900 — was at an all-time low since 1978. The 3.8% unemployment rate was Oregon’s lowest ever recorded.

So when the pandemic hit, the state’s economy crashed at “breathtaking speed,” according to the new report. The state lost 285,500 nonfarm payroll jobs, a 14.5% nosedive, as the unemployment rate skyrocketed by “nearly 10 percentage points to a record-high 13.2%.”

Nearly half of those job losses fell in three large sectors: leisure and hospitality, private education services and the broad “other services” category, which includes everything from automotive repair to beauty salons.

Some of those jobs have been recovered by now in Oregon, particularly in “other services,” as the economy has come back to life. But leisure and hospitality and private education services sectors have regained only about half of their lost jobs. Other areas, including local government, have seen job losses continue in recent months.

According to the agency, younger workers age 16 to 24 were more likely than other age groups to seek unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

Disproportionate impacts

Job losses landed heaviest on low-wage workers because of the pandemic’s impact on certain sectors.

“Leisure and hospitality was most notable, with about one-fifth (18.2%) of all jobs at minimum wage, and roughly four out of five jobs (78%) paying below-median wage,” the report said. The report also found that the two other hard-hit service categories had “larger shares of minimum wage jobs” than other sectors.

The report also found that women were disproportionately affected by job losses, because they are more likely to hold jobs in leisure and hospitality, education and other services than men.

Losses in the leisure and hospitality industries hit Latino workers particularly hard.

White people comprise 85% of Oregon’s workforce but constituted just 81% of leisure and hospitality workers. Conversely, the report noted that “although Hispanic or Latino workers accounted for 12% of workers across all sectors, they totaled 17% of the leisure and hospitality workforce.” That exposed them to disproportionate job losses, when restaurants

Daniel Seddiqui has a piece of Pittsburgh he helped create.

The California native, who lives in Bend, Ore., came to the city as part of his quest to visit 65 cities to craft a meaningful piece of each destination which reflects its culture and industry. He is calling the venture “A Piece of Your City.”

In Pittsburgh, he made a trip to create his own a “Terrible Towel” at Little Earth Productions, Inc. on the South Side.

Seddiqui contacted VisitPittsburgh about coming to Pittsburgh. A member of the organization suggested he visit Little Earth, the company that creates custom towels for which is a staple at Pittsburgh Steelers games, weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations as well as many other officially licensed apparel, bags, home décor and accessories of other professional sports teams.

“Little Earth was great,” he said. “They had me jump right in and I was able to choose the graphic I wanted and put the name I wanted on it and put it on the hot press.”

3997287_web1_ptr-livingthemap-5

Courtesy of Ava DeMarco

A “Terrible Towel” being made at Little Earth Productions, Inc. on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

 

Workers walked Seddiqui through the process from designing to production said Ava DeMarco, CEO of Little Earth. He was able to choose the font and the words he wanted printed on the towel. The towel design he went with incorporates the city’s landscape and an airplane flying overhead.

“The Terrible Towel definitely makes people think of Pittsburgh,” DeMarco said. “It is seen all over the world. We are so proud to be involved with the official Terrible Towel.”

Pittsburgh is his favorite city so far, said Seddiqui, who is paying his own travel expenses. Some of the cities’ visitor bureaus have helped with overnight accommodations.

“It has an incredibly unique landscape,” he said. “I love how it is laid out and all the neighborhoods on the hills with staircases leading up to them. There are tunnels and bridges and rivers. And I especially love how everything is black and gold.”

Seddiqui began his quest on April 13 in Portland, Maine, where he made beer at New England’s first brewery. In Boston, Mass., he made loose tea on the Boston Tea Party Ships. In Providence, R.I., he crafted an ornament from glassblowing. In New York City, he had a tennis lesson at the US Open in Queens, cooked on an Italian cooking show in Staten Island, learned hip-hop dance in the Bronx, made graffiti art in Brooklyn and a cartoon with The New Yorker Magazine artist in Manhattan. In Wilmington, Del. he made macaroons at the famous Hotel Du Pont and currency at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.

In Louisville, Ky., he crafted a baseball bat.

He arrive in Indianapolis, Ind. on Tuesday to make a street sign. Along this journey, he’s been staying with friends as well as in hotels. He flew from Oregon to Maine and has been driving to cities if they are relatively close. He spends about a

Oregon’s unemployment rate is below 6% for the first time since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shredded the economy and caused jobless rates across the country to skyrocket.

The 5.9% unemployment rate for May is the same as the just-revised rate for April, according to figures released Tuesday by the Oregon Employment Department.

State economists also saw a slight slowdown in hiring last month. The addition of 6,900 nonfarm payroll jobs follows four months of hiring where gains averaged 11,400 jobs per month.

Employment department officials note that the state has added jobs at a dizzying pace over the last several months.

“[T]here’s been a tremendous amount of hiring happening across Oregon in 2021,” said OED employment economist Gail Krumenauer in an email to OPB, pointing out that the 52,500 jobs added in the last five months would’ve taken 20 months before the pandemic.

The gains are even more remarkable in one of Oregon’s hardest-hit sectors.

“Leisure and hospitality has packed as much hiring into five months as it did over the course of five years (58 months) leading up to the pandemic,” Krumenauer said in her email.

By far the largest job increases in May were in the private-education sector, which added around 3,400 jobs in seasonally-adjusted numbers. Professional and business services also added a significant number of jobs last month, with 2,900 more positions, according to the employment department. “Transportation, warehousing and utilities” was the only major industry category that employment department officials noted lost jobs, with a decline of around 800 positions.

Overall, state employment levels are still well below where they were in February 2020, before pandemic restrictions struck. The Oregon Employment Department said the state has 109,000 fewer jobs — a difference of about 5.5% compared to 14 months ago.

That glass half-empty applies also to the leisure and hospitality sector, where hiring at restaurants and hotels is still a struggle.

“[I]t’s disappointing to see no net gain in leisure and hospitality jobs in May,” Krumenauer told OPB. “Within the leisure and hospitality sector, accommodation and food services (restaurants, drinking places, hotels) has been relatively flat for a few months.”

Oregon’s numbers are roughly tracking with the U.S. unemployment rate overall. The national rate fell to 5.8% in May, down from 6.1% in April.

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — Oregon’s unemployment rate was 5.9% in May, the same as the revised rate in April, the Oregon Employment Department reported Tuesday. This was the first time Oregon’s rate was below 6% since March 2020, when the state’s rate was 3.6%. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 5.8% in May from 6.1% in April.

In Oregon, nonfarm payroll employment grew by 6,900 in May, following monthly gains averaging 11,400 in the prior four months. Monthly gains in May were largest in private education (+3,400 jobs); professional and business services (+2,900); construction (+900); and financial activities (+900). Only one major industry shed more than 500 jobs in May: transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-800 jobs).

In May, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment totaled 1,864,000, a drop of 109,000 jobs, or 5.5% from the pre-recession peak in February 2020. Oregon’s employment dropped to a low of 1,687,500 by April 2020. Since then, Oregon has recovered 176,500 jobs, or 62% of the jobs lost between February and April 2020.

Leisure and hospitality accounts for the bulk of Oregon’s jobs not recovered since early 2020. It employed 169,600 in May, and added only 1,600 jobs in the most recent two months. The industry is still 46,700 jobs below its peak month of February 2020, so it accounts for 43% of overall nonfarm payroll jobs lost since Oregon’s pre-recession peak. The restaurants, bars, and hotels that make up accommodation and food services have shown flat hiring trends over the most recent three months; the employment level in this component industry has been close to 150,000 in March, April, and May.

Local government is another industry that has a long way to go to get back to normal. Employment averaged 207,400 in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 229,000 during the most recent pre-recession year of 2019. In May, local government employed 207,800. Local government education—including K-12 schools, community colleges, and public universities—accounts for over half of all local government employment.

A return to pre-pandemic employment is closer at hand for several major industries that were less impacted by the COVID recession. Although the following industries still haven’t surpassed their pre-recession peak, each is within 3% of attaining that milestone: trade, transportation, and utilitiesfinancial activitiesinformationconstruction; and professional and business services.

Next Press Releases

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the May county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, June 22, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for June on Tuesday, July 13.

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The PDF version of the news release can be found at QualityInfo.org/press-release. To obtain the data in other formats such as in Excel, visit 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.

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