Oregon jobless rate tumbles to new record low
By KRISTENA HANSEN
Mar. 21, 2017
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — State economists say the rate of unemployed Oregonians fell again in February to 4 percent, marking the lowest such figure the state has seen in at least the past four decades.
The rate of unemployed Oregonians fell again in February to 4 percent, marking the lowest such figure the state has seen in at least the past four decades and a full percentage point-drop in just two months, state economists said Tuesday.
In January the state's unemployment rate was 4.3 percent.
February was the second month in a row that Oregon's jobless rate declined to record lows since the state began tracking local labor data back in 1976. Oregon's jobless rate was notably lower than the 4.7 percent nationwide average, and it also managed to drop by one percentage point since December's 5 percent rate.
February's jobless rate represents about 82,000 unemployed Oregonians out of the labor market's overall 2 million-plus workers.
Nonfarm payrolls also added 8,200 jobs last month, up from the revised gain of 700 in January. More than half of those job gains came from government, helping the sector recover from its loss of 3,400 workers during the prior month.
A similar trend took place in the health care and social assistance sectors, which gained 2,400 workers following January's 1,700 loss. Job gains totaling 900 were also seen in construction, albeit at a much slower pace than its 2,500 new-hires in January. Conversely, transportation, utilities and warehousing purged 1,400 jobs in February.
In a statement, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown took the latest jobs data as another opportunity to criticize the GOP's federal health care overhaul proposal, which is up for a House vote this week on Capitol Hill.
"While Oregon has had historic job growth, unfortunately the proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act puts more than 23,000 health care jobs at risk," Brown said. "Congress must stop playing politics and consider the drastic consequences to Oregon's economy."
Year-over-year employment growth, while still faster than the nationwide 1.6 percent growth rate, has been slowing to more normal levels. The current 2.2 percent yearly employment gain, or 39,900 jobs statewide, is a tapering off from the roughly 3 percent increases Oregon had been consistently experiencing for much of the past four years.