For the first time in three years, the US northwest state of Oregon saw employment dip under 9%.
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.9 percent in December and 9.1 percent in November, compared to the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged down to 8.5 percent in December from 8.7 percent in November.
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment gained 2,400 in December, following a revised loss of 1,100 in November. December job gains were led by leisure and hospitality (+2,700 jobs) and government (+1,700). Gains were offset by losses in educational and health services (-2,200 jobs).
Leisure and hospitality added 500 jobs in December, when a loss of 2,200 is the normal seasonal pattern. This industry spiked downward sharply in October and November, but rebounded in December. Accommodation and food services grew rapidly over the past year, adding 7,300 jobs since December 2010, a gain of 5.3 percent. The rapid growth brings the sector close to its highest ever December figure, which was 148,500 jobs in December 2007.
Government cut only 3,400 jobs in December, when a loss of 5,100 would have been the normal seasonal pattern. Local government cut only 2,400 for the month, when a larger loss would have been normal. Local government education dropped 2,000, and is down 3,800 since December 2010. Severe reductions at local K through 12 school districts during June through August brought local government employment 8,800 below its comparable 2010 headcount. Since then, seasonally adjusted employment has been gradually rising, but it is still well below year-ago levels.
Federal government continues to trend downward, with the December figure of 26,700 the lowest in decades. Meanwhile, state government performed about as expected in December, with a loss of 500 jobs. State education added 1,100 jobs during the past 12 months, while the remainder of state government cut 300 over the same period.
Private educational and health services cut 2,100 jobs, when a gain of 100 is the norm for December. The industry returned from a one-month spike upward in the prior month. Over the longer term, private educational and health services has trended upward rapidly and consistently, gaining 9,100 jobs, or 3.9 percent, since December 2010. Each of this broader industry’s five published component industries has gained at least 1,100 jobs in those 12 months.
Construction performed above the normal seasonal pattern, but from a low base. It cut only 2,300 jobs in December, when a loss of 2,900 was expected due to seasonality. Most of its component industries cut jobs in December, but building equipment contractors showed a slight gain of 300 jobs.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, construction bottomed in late 2010 at about 67,000 jobs. Since then the industry has gradually inched ahead to employed 70,800 such jobs by December. This was the industry’s highest seasonally adjusted headcount since employing 71,000 in September 2009. These recent job gains are partially reflected in a slight upturn in Oregon residential building permits, which were up about 8 percent for January through November 2011 compared with the same period in 2010.