Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.0 percent in August, the same as in June and July. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.7 percent during each of the most recent three months of June, July, and August. Oregon’s unemployment rate has been between 4.0 percent and 4.4 percent for 34 consecutive months dating back to November 2016. This sustained stretch of low unemployment is unprecedented in comparable records dating back to 1976. In the 40 years prior to 2016, Oregon’s unemployment rate was never below 4.7 percent.
In August, Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment added 900 jobs, following a gain of 2,400 jobs in July. Monthly gains for August were strongest in leisure and hospitality (+1,600 jobs) and professional and business services (+1,100). These gains were offset by job losses in several industries: wholesale trade (-900 jobs); other services (-900); retail trade (-700); and health care and social assistance (-600).
Recent employment growth has slowed from the rapid expansion over the prior several years. In the first eight months of 2019, total nonfarm employment gains averaged 1,000 jobs per month. This was a marked slowdown from the average gain of 3,000 jobs per month in 2018. So far in 2019, several industries have cut jobs, with information down the most in percentage terms (-2,000 jobs, or -5.7%).
Several other major industries shed jobs in that time: finance and insurance (-1,200 jobs, or -2.1%); leisure and hospitality (-2,600 jobs, or -1.2%); and retail trade (-2,200 jobs, or -1.0%). These losses were offset by job growth over the past eight months in education and health services (6,400 jobs, or 2.2%); professional and business services (4,200 jobs, or 1.7%); and manufacturing (3,100 jobs, or 1.6%).