Thursday, July 2, 2015

U.S. Payrolls Add 223,000 Jobs in June

This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its summary of June's employment situation. The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 5.3 percent, and payroll employment grew by 223,000 jobs.

June's job growth was on pace with the average for the last three months (221,000), but slightly below the average monthly gain of 250,000 for the prior 12 months. Professional and business services saw the largest monthly gain in June, 64,000 jobs, with nearly one-third of that due to an increase in temporary help services. Health care added 40,000 jobs in June.

The BLS noted unemployment rates of 4.8 percent each for adult men and adult women. By comparison, the unemployment rate for teens was 18.1 percent last month. That's down from 20.7 percent in June 2014, but teens still face significantly higher unemployment rates than adults. In June, the unemployment sat below 4.0 percent for those ages 35 to 44, 45 to 54, and 55 and older nationwide.

Note: all figures in this post are seasonally adjusted, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the source for all data.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fourth of July Brings Fountain of Jobs to Oregon

by Nick Beleiciks, State Employment Economist

Oregonians across the state will be celebrating the 239th anniversary of our nation’s Declaration of Independence with barbeques featuring Oregon-grown fare, pies made from Oregon cherries, and fireworks as permitted under Oregon Revised Statutes 480.110 through 480.165. They will also enjoy displays created by Oregon’s professional pyrotechnic companies.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that $247.1 million worth of fireworks were imported from China in 2014. According to the 2012 Economic Census, sales of fireworks by wholesalers totaled $508.1 million, while sales of fireworks by retailers totaled $369.4 million. This volume of sales generates jobs, although the exact number is as obscure as a neighborhood street filled with lit smoke balls.

Trying to count Oregon’s fireworks-related jobs can make you feel like a lit-up Catherine wheel spinning on a post. There’s no single industry that captures everything related to fireworks. We decided to compile employment and wage data for the six firms with a variation of “fireworks” in their name and the firms we knew sold fireworks but did not mention it in their name.

Oregon’s fireworks firms are involved in one of these two activities:
  • Toy and hobby goods and supplies merchant wholesalers – businesses that take possession of the fireworks before selling them to retailers. 
  • All other amusement and recreation industries – business that put on firework displays.
Employment at just the six fireworks firms blooms like a ground flower around the Fourth of July, reaching 182 jobs in July 2014. Their combined average employment was 88 jobs in the third quarter of 2014, with a total pay of nearly $627,000. That works out to an average quarterly wage of over $7,100 per job, equivalent to over $28,000 per year, if they worked all year round.

We know this is a significant undercount of all fireworks-related jobs because there are currently more than 700 retail fireworks sales locations permitted by the State Fire Marshal. One-half of these permits are for indoors locations like grocery stores, where it’s impossible to separate fireworks-related employment. The other half are for outside locations in temporary tents or stands, typically as fundraisers. 
So think about all the workers behind the black snakes and sparklers you’re enjoying this year. And please remember to be safe. Oregon’s 3,715 fire fighters could use a relaxing Independence Day.

Your four-legged friends could use some moral support too as they struggle through the booms and bangs of the holiday. Remember that many pets are afraid of the fireworks, and you may need to take precautions to keep them safe and calm. While Oregon is home to 1,070 veterinarians, you can bet that not all of them will be working this weekend!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Labor Force Participation and Unemployment by Race and Ethnicity in 2014

by Nick Beleiciks, State Employment Economist

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in 2014, but the unemployment rate varies across race and ethnicity groups. The unemployment rate was 4.4 percent among Asians, 6.8 percent among Whites, and 13.6 percent among Blacks and African Americans. The unemployment rate among Hispanics and Latinos of any race was 9.6 percent.


Oregon’s labor force participation rate was 61.4 percent. Participation rates also vary across race and ethnicity group. Participation rates were 64.1 percent among Asians, 62.8 percent among Blacks, and 61.2 percent among Whites. The participation rate among Hispanics and Latinos was 67.8 percent.









Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Oregon’s Labor Market Largely Unchanged in May

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in May, little changed from April’s 5.2 percent. This kept the state’s rate close to the national level, as the U.S. unemployment rate was 5.5 in May and 5.4 percent in April.

Employment growth paused in May, posting a decline of 1,400, the first monthly drop since September 2012. But this one-month decline is not an indicator of continued job losses. Despite the decline, employment was still up substantially over the year. Jobs have increased by 50,500, or 2.9 percent, since May 2014.

Real wages are growing. With Oregon’s unemployment rate dropping close to historic lows, wage gains reflected a tightening labor market. Average hourly earnings increased 2.2 percent over the year for Oregon’s private-sector employees. These gains were above the rate of consumer price inflation.

Read the full release here: Oregon Employment Department Press Release.

Friday, June 5, 2015

U.S. Employers Added 280,000 Jobs to Payrolls in May

This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the unemployment rate and employment estimates for May. The unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged at 5.5 percent last month. The U.S. logged above average employment growth in May though, with a gain of 280,000 jobs. The average monthly gain for the past 12 months totaled 251,000.

Industries with notable gains in May included professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; and health care. Together, these three industries added 167,000 jobs over the month.

Employment in mining declined for the fifth consecutive month.
You can find more details on the labor force and industry employment growth in the full release from the BLS.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Central Oregon has State's Largest Over-the-Year Job Gains

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in all of Oregon’s six broad regions between April 2014 and April 2015. The largest job gains occurred in Central Oregon (3.5%) and the Willamette Valley (+2.8%).  Portland (+2.7%), Southern Oregon (+2.6%), Eastern Oregon (1.3%), and the Oregon Coast (0.9%) also saw growth.


Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April at 4.1 percent. Grant County (9.1%) registered the highest rate for the month. Ten of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 5.2 percent and 11 were at or below April’s national rate of 5.4 percent. Harney County saw the largest improvement in its unemployment rate over the year with a drop of 4.3 percentage points.

For more on Oregon's local unemployment rates, read: April 2015 Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Occupational Wage Differential Calculator

Wage differentials are a quick and easy way to spot relatively high paying occupations in a region. This sort of information is useful for students planning their careers, experienced professionals moving to a new location, workforce planners trying to identify potential worker shortages, or anyone curious about how the pay in their occupation stacks up against their neighbors.

The occupational wage differential is calculated by dividing an occupation’s average wage in a geographic area by the average wage for all occupations in that area. 

The 2.1 wage differential for registered nurses in Multnomah and Washington means nurses earn 110 percent more per hour than the average worker in those counties. Nurses in Clatsop, Columbia, and Tillamook counties make 170 percent more than the average worker. 

Wage differentials can tell us something about the potential standard of living. A worker in an occupation with a high wage differential can probably afford a higher standard of living than a worker in an occupation with a low wage differential, other things being equal. 

But, other factors that can affect wage differentials include prominent industries in an area, unionization in an area, and the types of occupations in an area.

Here's a look at wage differentials around Oregon:


Read more about wage differentials in our full article: Identifying Higher-Paying Occupations in Your Area

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Oregon’s Payroll Employment Grows Rapidly in April 2015

Oregon saw rapid growth in payroll employment, adding 7,600 jobs in April 2015. This was on track with growth seen between September 2014 and January 2015, when the average month growth was at 6,200 jobs.


“Oregon’s economy, in terms of unemployment and job growth, is doing great and looks a lot like it did ten years ago during the last expansion,” says State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks.

Growth between April 2014 and April 2015 hit 3.2 percent, similar to the pace seen during mid-2004 through 2006, when Oregon’s annual gains averaged 3.0 percent.

Oregon’s unemployment rate declined to 5.2 percent in April, down from 5.4 percent in March. This is the lowest rate for Oregon since July 2007.




Read the entire news release here: Oregon Employment Department Press Release.

County employment and unemployment rates for April will be available on Tuesday, May 27, 2015.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Self-Driving Commercial Truck

Next time you pass an 18-wheeler on I-5, check to see if the driver is taking a nap! Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but could be in the cards in coming years.

Freightliner and Daimler recently unveiled the first self-driving commercial truck, licensed in the State of Nevada. What does this unveiling mean for the state of Oregon, where there were more than 21,000 heavy and tractor-trailer drivers in 2012, and almost 2,000 online ads for truckers placed just last month?

Probably not a whole lot just yet...

According to Freightliner, the most important element of the self-driving truck is the human element. Although the truck can operate autonomously on the highway, there is still need for a human behind the wheel. The driver is responsible for exits and on-ramps, as well as unforeseen weather difficulties.

In fact, according to Freightliner and CNET, the system is most comparable to the autopilot system on an airplane.

While drivers aren't being replaced yet, the benefits of the self-driving truck could include increased fuel economy and fewer accidents.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Education Pays - 2015

by Nick Beleiciks, State Employment Economist

Our new infographic tells the old truth that education pays. The average hourly earnings of workers without a high school diploma is $12.20 per hour, a little more than $25,000 per year working full time. Compare that with the $19.80 hourly average for those who have earned a two-year college degree, which is about $41,000 per year working full time. These are the average wages, so of course some people will earn more and some people will earn less.

Not only are they likely to earn more, but those with a degree are less likely to be unemployed than someone who doesn't have a high school diploma. The unemployment rate among those with a two-year college degree is 4.5 percent, but it’s 9.0 percent for those without a high school diploma.


Wages and employment opportunities vary widely depending on the field of study. It’s important for students to look at the occupational and wage information related to their degree and understand how potential future earnings compare with the cost of their education and student debt.

You can download the Education Pays PDF or order a hard copy of the Education Pays Poster through our publication order form.

Source: The graphic uses 2014 national averages for those ages 25 years and older from the Current Population Survey of households. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

April's National Jobs Count Shows Improvement

The nation added 223,000 jobs in April, an improvement upon March's weak job growth of 85,000. The unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.4 percent, as the number of unemployed persons held steady at 8.5 million.

Over the past three months, jobs have grown an average of 191,000 per month, a figure brought down by March's revised job growth. April's job growth was still less than the average monthly gain over the past 12 months, which came in at about 249,000 jobs per month.

According to State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks, "The decent national job growth figures for April show continued underlying strength in the labor market.”

We'll find out if Oregon's employment growth follows the nation in the Oregon Employment Department's May 19 release. Visit the press release page for details.

Here are a few more figures from the release:
  • The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was down 880,000 over the year.
  • Professional and business services led growth with a gain of 62,000 jobs in April. Employment in construction jumped 45,000.
  • Average hourly earnings grew by 3 cents in April.