Unemployment

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in both January and February, the lowest on comparable records dating back to 1976. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February.

“It’s too early to have data showing the employment impact, but the response to COVID-19 is causing a reduction in economic activity both nationally and in Oregon,” said Nick Beleiciks, systems and economic analysis manager at the Oregon Employment Department. “It will be weeks before we can accurately quantify the extent of the damage to Oregon’s labor market.”

Oregon’s labor force data for February shows little impact from the spread of the coronavirus since the February unemployment rate is based on people’s activity during the week that included Feb. 12. The monthly unemployment rate is always based on a person’s employment status for the week that includes the 12th of each month. By mid-February, there had been relatively limited economic impact from the disease in the U.S. In February, there were 69,000 unemployed Oregonians, which was the lowest number in more than 40 years.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 3,100 jobs in February, following a loss of 300 jobs in January. Two major industries added more than 1,000 jobs in February: construction (+1,700 jobs) and professional and business services (+1,300). Only one industry cut jobs substantially: manufacturing (+500).

Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment increased by 26,600 jobs, or 1.4 percent, over the year since February 2019. In the past 12 months, transportation, warehousing, and utilities grew at the fastest rate of the major industries, expanding by 3,100 jobs, or 4.5 percent. Information also expanded rapidly, adding 1,100 jobs, or 3.2 percent, since February 2019. Construction (+3,000 jobs, or 2.8%) and other services (+1,900 jobs, or 2.9%) also were leading industries of growth over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, only one industry shed a substantial number of jobs since February 2019; manufacturing dropped 3,700 jobs, declining 1.9 percent.

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