Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Edges Down to 6.0 Percent in October

Oregon’s unemployment rate edged down to 6.0 percent in October from 6.2 percent in September. Last year at this time, the rate was 6.8 percent.

Jobs grew by 2,100 over the month, with gains of 800 or more in four major industries offset by declines in two industries. See the chart below for details on individual industries.

Last month's job losses were revised by 4,400 in the positive direction. While preliminary estimates put the September figure at a loss of 5,300, revised estimates put the September loss at 900. Revisions occur when new information is gained that was unavailable at the time of the preliminary estimate. For more information on revisions, see below.

According to State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks, "The large upward revision to September’s preliminary estimate confirms that job growth this year has been strong and widespread across many industries in Oregon.”

Over the past 12 months, Oregon’s expansion was strong and diverse. Since October 2014, payrolls grew by 54,800 jobs, or 3.2 percent—faster than the U.S. growth of 2.0 percent.

For more on how and why revisions are made, read Beyond the Numbers: Why are there revisions to the jobs numbers?

For the full press release, visit the Oregon Employment Department's Press Release Page.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oregon Veterans in the Workforce

Here are some employment and labor force facts about Oregon's veterans!

The unemployment rate for Oregon's veterans in 2014, compared with 5.3 percent for nonveterans

Labor force participation rate of the state's veterans in 2014, slightly above 46.1 percent in 2013

Veterans employed part time in Oregon last year

The number of veterans with full-time jobs in 2014 

Number of veterans in the state's labor force in 2014

We thank Oregon's veterans for their service to our country and in our workforce.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Construction Employment Growing, but Still Below Peak

This chart is about construction employment during housing busts and their recoveries. It compares construction employment in Oregon during the Great Recession (purple line) with construction employment during the early 1980s recession (green line). We set the pre-recession level of employment at 100, and employment is each month is relative to the pre-recession peak level.

It took about 10 years from the start of construction employment losses in 1979 for the number of jobs to get close to that level again, and another five years (through the early 1990s recession) before employment fully returned to its late 1970s level.

Construction job losses were bad during the Great Recession, but not quite as bad as in the early 1980s in terms of percentage losses. However, construction is showing a similar slow recovery this time around. Construction employment levels were very high during the housing bubble, so we don’t expect construction employment to return to its pre-recession peak anytime soon. In other words, construction may currently be in the middle of another 15-year jobs slump.

Written by Nick Beleiciks, State Employment Economist

For more on the Oregon construction industry, read Damon Runberg's article: Where Did All of Oregon’s Construction Workers Go?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Oregon's Employment Declines in September

Oregon's nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 5,300 jobs in September, the first monthly job decline in 36 months. Despite the job loss in September, Oregon has still added 49,500 jobs over the past year. That's still a strong growth rate (2.9%) over the year, and faster than job expansion nationwide (2.1%), but slower than the 3.5 percent year-to-year job growth rate seen through August.

The decline in September was spread across eight out of 14 broad industry groups. Four industries posted job losses greater than 1,000 jobs over the month: construction (-1,800); retail trade (-1,600);  leisure and hospitality (-1,600); and professional and business services (-1,300). These industries have either been bouncing up and down in terms of job growth in recent months, or on a long-term growth path. So, September's declines can be viewed in the context of stronger payroll growth this year.

"September's losses were a sharp departure from months of rapid job growth in Oregon," said State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks, "but it's too early to tell if the losses are just a blip in the recovery, or a signal of slower growth this autumn."

Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 6.2 percent in September, compared with 6.1 percent in August. The rate was 6.9 percent in September 2014.

These preliminary estimates of jobs and other labor force data are produced in cooperation with the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, are based on surveys of businesses and households, and are subject to later revision.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Welding – Beyond the Sparks and the Arc

Read workforce analyst Lynn Wallis' full article 

What do skyscrapers, automobiles, rockets, and ships have in common? In all likelihood, they have been welded. According to the American Welding Society, an estimated 50 percent of the United States gross national product is affected by welding. Skyscrapers, bridges, and highways would be impossible to build without welding, as would oil and natural-gas pipelines, giant wind turbines, and solar panels.

Welding is one of the few career choices that seems to be in high demand at all times. This is because welders are needed in almost every industry. Oregon hourly wages in 2015 vary from $13.43 for entry level positions to $25.94 for experienced welders at the high end of the pay scale. According to, the salaries of welders may vary a lot depending on how skilled the worker is and if he/she is willing to travel and/or work in hazardous conditions.

Training for this occupation varies broadly from a few weeks of schooling or on-the-job training to several years of combined schooling and on-the-job training. Most welders, according to the Oregon Career Information System, learn their job skills through a formal training program either in high school, professional-technical schools or two-year colleges. Some branches of the military also train people to be welders and metal workers.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Help Wanted in Oregon: 43,000 Job Vacancies this Summer

Today the Oregon Employment Department published the latest quarterly estimates of job vacancies for Oregon and nine sub-state areas.

Oregon's privately owned businesses reported 43,000 job vacancies this summer. As is normally the case, health care and social assistance had the largest number of vacancies (8,300). Leisure and hospitality and retail trade -- two big summer hiring industries -- also reported large numbers of vacancies. Some occupations with the most job openings in these industries included nursing assistants, registered nurses, personal care aides, retail salespersons, cashiers, and cooks.

"Middle wage" jobs were on the rise. The number of job vacancies that paid between $15 and $25 per hour rose sharply compared with last summer.

Businesses also reported greater difficulty filling vacancies this summer. Almost two-thirds (65%) of vacancies were difficult to fill this summer; since 2013 the difficult-to-fill share has generally been closer to one-half of all vacancies.

The number of unemployed Oregonians rose slightly over the summer, while the number of job vacancies pulled back from a record high in the spring. As a result, the ratio of unemployed persons to vacancies rose from 2-to-1 in the spring back to 3-to-1 in the summer. Oregon's unemployed-to-vacancy ratio was also 3-to-1 for most of 2014. Nationwide there are two unemployed persons per job vacancy.

The geographic area from Portland to Eugene accounted for roughly seven out of 10 vacancies in the summer. That's in line with the area's shares of statewide population and statewide employment. Sub-state vacancy totals can be seen by clicking on the bars in the graph below.

More information about Oregon's job vacancies can be found in the Job Vacancy Survey category on the publications page at

Friday, October 2, 2015

September Jobs Up Nationwide, Unemployment Rate Steady

The nation added 142,00 jobs in September 2015 while the unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent. This month's growth comes in below the 12-month average of 229.000 jobs added.

“National job growth is looking good, but not great like it did earlier in the year," says State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks. 

Jobs saw huge growth near the end of 2014 and in the beginning of 2015. See the graph below for more details.

"Most of the major sectors are continuing along their growth paths, but low oil prices are leading to severe job losses in the mining sector.”

The mining sector has seen losses of 102,000 jobs since its peak in December of 2015.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Average Hourly Wages on the Rise

After years of remaining flat, average hourly wages (adjusted for inflation) have risen in 2015. In August 2015, average hourly wages in Oregon were $23.42, up from $23.16 in August 2014.

This comes in part from essentially no change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the year, which was held down by a 12-month decrease in gas prices of 23.3 percent.

Below, find the 12-month change in price for certain items in the Consumer Price Index. Note the steep drop in gas prices, compared with the more stable change in all items.

For the full report on CPI, read the BLS' latest news release.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oregon's Aging Workforce: A Look by Industry and County

Oregon’s workforce is aging. The number of Oregon jobs held by workers age 55 and over nearly tripled from 1992 to 2014 (see animation below), while the total number of jobs grew by just over one-third. Workers 55 and over held just 10 percent of the jobs in 1992, increasing their share to 23 percent of all jobs by 2014. Driving this trend is the fact that much of the Baby Boom Generation is now 55 and over, and they are more likely to be in the labor force than previous generations were at this age. Even so, many of these workers are probably planning to retire in the next 10 years, taking their skills and experience with them.

Although the aging workforce is a general demographic trend, it impacts employers, industries, or regions to varying degrees. Employers should know the age profile of their own workforce so they can plan accordingly for increased turnover from retirees. At a broader level, workforce planners need to know the demographic profiles of entire industries and regions to help gauge the need for future replacement workers.

The pace of retirements will likely be faster in industries that have an older workforce profile. Industry age profiles vary from the relatively young accommodation and food services sector where just 14 percent of workers are 55 and older to the relatively old mining and quarrying sector where 33 percent of workers are 55 and older. Although utilities and mining have high concentrations of older workers, they employ fewer workers and will require relatively few replacement workers. Some employers within these industries may struggle to find enough suitable workers if they don’t plan ahead.

Industries that stand out in sheer size and share of workers 55 and over are health care and social assistance (both private and public) and educational services (again, both private and public). These two sectors combined employ one out of four workers age 55 and over. Employers in these and in all other industries need to plan for how they are going to attract replacement workers, especially for jobs that require significant training.

Rural county workforces tend to have a higher share of older workers and will feel the impact of the aging workforce more than metro counties. In counties outside metropolitan areas, more than one out of four (27%) workers is 55 years or older. That represents more than 60,000 workers in rural Oregon who are probably hoping to retire within the next decade.

Read more about the demographic trends by industry in Oregon's counties in the full article, Oregon’s Aging Workforce by Industry and County, 2014, written by Nick Beleiciks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Oregon's Minimum Wage Will Remain at $9.25 in 2016

Oregon's minimum wage rate will remain unchanged at $9.25 per hour in 2016. The state's minimum wage is linked to inflation and is adjusted on January 1st in most years. Since inflation was little changed over the last year, the minimum wage rate will not increase in 2016.

The last time Oregon saw no change in the minimum wage was in 2010. Inflation declined over the year, so the state's minimum wage remained at $8.40 in both 2009 and 2010.

Oregon had the second-highest state minimum wage in 2015, behind Washington (the District of Columbia and some cities also had a higher minimum wage). Oregon's 2016 rate will remain lower than Washington's minimum wage -- which will remain unchanged at $9.47 per hour -- but above the federal minimum wage rate, which rose to $7.25 per hour on July 24, 2009 and has stayed there since. The federal minimum wage is not adjusted annually for inflation.
According to unemployment insurance data, Oregon had roughly 100,200 jobs paying $9.25 per hour or less in the first quarter of 2015. This constitutes 5.3 percent of all jobs covered by Oregon's unemployment insurance program. Leisure and hospitality had the highest number with 41,600 jobs paying $9.25 or less, and retail trade followed with 21,800 jobs. Industries in which a substantially larger-than-average share of jobs paid $9.25 per hour or less include leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and natural resources and mining.

For more information about minimum-wage jobs by industry, contact State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks (who also wrote this summary!).

Note: The inflation-adjustment to 2016 comes from the Office of Economic Analysis inflation forecast.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Oregon Experiencing Fast Job Growth, Unemployment Rate Increases

Jobs continued to grow in Oregon in August, increasing by almost 4,400, following a revised gain of 7,400 in July. In August, two major industries gained the most jobs: leisure and hospitality added 2,100, and government added 1,600. The other 12 major industries performed close to their normal seasonal patterns.

Over the past 12 months, Oregon’s payroll employment has expanded by 60,400 jobs, or 3.5 percent. This is the state’s fastest job growth rate since February 2005.

Despite strong job gains, Oregon’s unemployment rate edged up to 6.1 percent in August from 5.9 percent in July. However, the unemployment rate continues to be lower than last year (6.9% in August 2014).

"The unemployment rate in August continued this summer’s upward trend, which was caused by a larger than usual number of people joining the labor force as unemployed," according to state employment economist Nick Beleiciks. "Employers are adding jobs at full speed, so many of these job seekers should be able to find work soon."

For more information, read August's employment situation.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Wages at Entry, Median, and Experienced Levels in Oregon's Workforce Areas

Each year we publish Oregon Wage Information (OWI), which provides wages for more than 700 occupations in Oregon.

In addition to providing average wages, the OWI tables also provide a range of wages -- from the 10th percentile to the 25th, 50th (median), 75th, and 90th percentile -- for each occupation. These wage range percentiles give data users a good handle on typical pay for entry-level workers at one end and for experienced workers at the other end.

For example, forensic science technicians earn an average of $29.43 per hour. The median (50th percentile) hourly wage for forensic science technicians in Oregon is $30.28. At the low end (10th percentile), they earn $19.42 per hour and at the high end (90th percentile), they earn $37.89 per hour.

The chart provides a look at wages by geographical area rather than occupation. The blue bars start and end at the 10th and 90th percentiles, and the median wage is indicated. While jobs in some occupations certainly pay outside of these ranges (e.g., minimum wage jobs or jobs in high-level executive occupations), the bulk of occupational wages fall in these ranges.

The southwestern corner of Oregon, which includes Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties, shows the lowest median hourly wage ($14.88) in 2015. Meanwhile the Portland Metro area, made up of Multnomah and Washington counties, has the highest median hourly wage ($19.48). Only Clackamas County and the Portland Metro workforce areas report a higher median wage than Oregon statewide.

You can find more information (and Excel tables!) with OWI data at in the Oregon Wage Information box on the Publications Page.

Employment and Wages at Small and Large Firms in Oregon

Each year the Employment Department publishes information about the size of firms in Oregon. Nine out of 10 private-sector firms in Oregon had fewer than 20 employees in March 2015. Six out of 10 employed fewer than five.

Despite their quantity, smaller firms collectively account for a much smaller share of overall employment than their larger counterparts. For example, the 59 percent of firms with one to four employees represented about 8 percent of covered employment and 6 percent of wages in March 2015. On the other hand, the 0.3 percent of firms with at least 500 employees accounted for 27 percent of private-sector jobs and 36 percent of wages.

These distributions tend to remain stable from one year to the next, even as the overall number of firms, employees, and wages expands or contracts. This doesn't mean that smaller firms are under performing when it comes to job creation, or that larger firms are experiencing a bonanza. Size of firm data does not provide us with information about the dynamics of job growth. Instead, it offers a snapshot that can help us understand the roles of small and large firms in Oregon's economy at a specific point in time.

Thanks to Phoebe Colman, our performance measures analyst, for this summary!