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.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Occupational Wage Differential Calculator

Here's a preview of our upcoming article Identifying Higher-Paying Occupations in Your Area.

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:

Our upcoming article on wage differentials will dig deeper into the measure, and will be available at our website, QualityInfo.org.

Monday, May 4, 2015

More Vacancies and Higher Wages Offered in Winter 2015

Oregon Businesses reported 39,400 vacancies in winter 2015, an increase of 6,600 vacancies from the prior year. The growing number of vacancies reflects the strengthening labor market across Oregon in the past year. The average hourly wage offered for job vacancies was $17.53, the highest in the two-year history of the quarterly Oregon Job Vacancy Survey.

The Oregon Job Vacancy Survey now has improved geographic detail. Vacancy data will be published for nine areas around the state, aligning with Oregon’s re-designed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act local areas.

There were about three unemployed per job vacancy in Oregon during the last four quarters, a pretty low level according to Jessica Nelson, an employment economist with the Oregon Employment Department. The unemployed-to-job openings ratio is low in the rest of the country, too. “Nationally, that unemployed to job vacancy ratio is down to two unemployed per job vacancy, and that is about as low as it tends to go over the history of that series.”

Oregon businesses may need to focus on their recruitment strategies, according to Nelson. “They may have a tougher time recruiting in a tighter labor market with not as much surplus labor available.”

Friday, April 24, 2015

Oregon's Over-the-Month Unemployment Rate Drop Largest in Nation

Oregon's over-the-month unemployment rate drop was the largest in the nation in March 2015. The decline of 0.4 percentage point tied with the state of Washington for the top spot. Three states had drops of 0.3 percentage point.

Over the year, Oregon's unemployment rate decline of 1.7 percentage points was topped only by three other states. The biggest drop was seen by Kentucky (-2.1 percentage points). Louisiana had the bottom spot among states on the list as it's unemployment rate increased by 1.1 percentage points over the year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Oregon Unemployment Rates by County, March 2015

Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March at 4.4 percent. Grant County (9.7%) registered the highest rate for the month. Eleven of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 5.4 percent and 12 were at or below March’s national rate of 5.5 percent. Harney County saw the largest improvement in its unemployment rate over the year with a drop of 3.6 percentage points.

For county data, visit our press release page.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Oregon’s Agriculture Sector

In 2013, the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector employed more than 49,000 in Oregon, an all-time high. The sector showed rapid job growth in 2012 and 2013, adding nearly 4,500 jobs during and growing 10 percent.

Oregon's agriculture sector typically shows slow and steady growth, but this recent growth followed steep employment losses during the Great Recession. Oregon's agriculture sector, in particular nurseries and grass seed farmers, was hard hit by the national slowdown in housing. In 2009 alone, the sector declined 8 percent, shedding nearly 4,000 jobs.

Oregon's agriculture sector has grown more slowly than the industry nationally, in terms of its output, as measured by its contribution to Oregon's gross domestic product (GDP). The graph below illustrates that in particular during the recent recession the nation significantly outpaced Oregon's agriculture sector. 

Prior to 2006, Oregon was trending fairly close to the nation. In 2013, Oregon's output within agriculture was 66 percent higher than it was in 1997. Nationally, the industry's output was 147 percent above its 1997 level.

For more on Oregon's agriculture sector, read Pat O'Connor's full article: Oregon's Agriculture Sector.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.4 Percent, Inching Below the National Rate

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell from 5.8 percent to 5.4 percent in March. This is the first time Oregon’s rate has been lower than the national rate (5.5%) since 1996, but it is not a big enough difference to be statistically significant.

Over the year, Oregon’s unemployment rate fell by 1.7 percentage points.

“The falling unemployment rate is not unexpected given the state’s solid job growth over the past year,” says State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks. “It just shows how much the state’s economy has improved.”

The state gained more than 56,000 jobs over the year, a gain of 3.3 percent. The solid growth was reflected across a diverse group of industries, including professional and business services, health care and social assistance, and manufacturing.

While these substantial job gains have contributed to the declining unemployment rate, other factors work to move the unemployment rate in the other direction.

“These large drops [in the unemployment rate] won’t continue forever,” according to Beleiciks. “If Oregon’s labor force starts growing like it did last year, we could actually see the unemployment rate rise again, even with the job growth.”

In March, Oregon’s labor force dropped by about 6,500 (seasonally adjusted). The number of employed rose by 1,600, while the number of unemployed decreased by 8,100.

Read the full press release here.

Friday, April 3, 2015

U.S. Job Gains Smallest Since December 2013

The United States added 126,000 jobs in March, the smallest monthly increase since December 2013. Job gains averaged about 324,000 a month in the last quarter of 2014, while an average of 197,000 jobs per month were added in the first quarter of 2015.

State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks says of the decline in growth, "Businesses that provide support activities for oil and gas extraction have been cutting jobs in recent months. That’s because lower crude oil prices are slowing expansion in the industry."

Oil and gas extraction support is part of the mining industry, which has lost 30,000 jobs so far in 2015.

Closer to home were the national job losses in manufacturing. "Oregon’s manufacturing sector has been steadily adding jobs over the last year," says Beleiciks. Manufacturing employment grew by 0.7 percent in February and 4.3 percent between Feb 2014 and Feb 2015.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.5 percent, down 1.1 percentage points over the year. That's about 1.8 million fewer unemployed persons.

We’ll find out if Oregon's employment figures follow the nation's in the Oregon Employment Department's April 14, 10:00 a.m. press release. Visit our press release page for information.

Read the BLS' full release here: The Employment Situation - March 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Many More Job Vacancies Around the State in 2014

During 2014, Oregon’s private employers were looking to fill about 45,000 job vacancies at any given time, according to new annual figures from the Oregon Employment Department’s Job Vacancy Survey. The Job Vacancy Survey provides a snapshot of the labor market job seekers face. 

The number of job vacancies in 2014 increased by 40 percent compared with 2013. 

The average starting wage offered by employers also improved over the year, increasing by 4 percent to $15.67. The largest increase in vacancies was among jobs offering starting wages between $10 and $15 per hour. There were 15,200 vacancies in this range, up 72 percent from 2013. Vacancies offering more $15 per hour increased 29 percent to 11,900. There were slightly fewer vacancies offering less than $10 per hour in 2014. That’s partly because the increase in Oregon’s minimum wage from $8.95 in 2013 to $9.10 in 2014 narrowed that wage range.

One key to finding a job that pays higher than average wages is to have at least some postsecondary training or other work related qualification. The average wage offered for vacancies requiring education beyond high school was more than $17 per hour. Average wages increased for jobs requiring college degrees. The average hourly wage was $20 per hour for vacancies that required an associate degree, $31 per hour for a bachelor’s degree, and $38 for a graduate degree. Vacancies that did not require education beyond high school offered hourly wages of $12 per hour.

Employers also offered higher wages when their vacancies required more than a year of previous experience. Vacancies with no experience requirement paid an average of $11 per hour. Those requiring less than one year of experience paid $12 per hour. For vacancies that required one to five years of previous work experience, the average wage offered was $18 per hour, while those that required five or more years of experience averaged $32 per hour.

The health care and social assistance industry accounted for almost one-fifth of vacancies, more than any other industry sector. Four additional industries each accounted for more than 10 percent of Oregon job vacancies: management, administrative, and waste services (which includes company headquarters and temporary staffing agencies, among other businesses); retail trade; leisure and hospitality; and manufacturing.

Characteristics of job vacancies can vary significantly by industry. For example, nine out of 10 health care vacancies were for permanent positions, and 39 percent required education beyond high school. In natural resources and mining, however, just 18 percent of vacancies in 2014 were for permanent jobs, and only 3 percent required education beyond high school. The specific occupations being recruited make a big difference in how industry-level details play out – almost two-thirds of the natural resources and mining vacancies were for farmworkers, of which only 11 percent were permanent positions and most were seasonal. Health care recruitment was focused on registered nurses, nursing assistants, and medical assistants, which were almost always permanent positions.

Every region of the state had more vacancies in 2014 than in 2013. Eastern Oregon saw the greatest percentage growth in vacancies over the year, up 73 percent from 2013, and the Portland area followed, with 44 percent more vacancies in 2014 than in 2013. The Portland Tri-County area had just over 23,000 vacancies in 2014, 51 percent of the statewide total.  

The Oregon Job Vacancy Survey has been conducted since 2008. The 2014 estimates are based on responses from 10,400 Oregon employers. Vacancy survey results for the first quarter of 2015 are scheduled for release in April 2015. A special report on Oregon’s difficult-to-fill vacancies will be available later this spring.

For more details on statewide and regional vacancies, visit the “publications” tab on QualityInfo.org and scroll down to the section titled “Job Vacancy Survey.”

Employment Department economist Jessica Nelson discusses the vacancy survey release in the podcast below.