Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Dips to 3.4%, Matching Record Low

Manufacturing sector continues to struggle, though there are some bright spots, including transportation equipment.

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Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.4% in July, matching the record low reached in November and December 2019, according to numbers released by the Oregon Employment Department Wednesday.

July marked the sixth consecutive monthly drop in the state’s jobless rate, down from 3.5% in June and from a recent high of 4.8% in January.

Oregon added 6,800 seasonally adjusted, nonfarm payroll jobs in July after a gain of 5,700 jobs in June, per OED’s press release, which adds that July’s gain was nearly double the average increase of 3,700 jobs per month during the previous 12 months.

OED notes that nearly all of Oregon’s job growth in the past year has been in three industries — health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, and government — with each sector up about 10,000 jobs and expanding by 4% to 5%.

The sectors seeing the biggest jobs gains since June were health care and social assistance (which added 3,400 jobs), government (which added 1,600 jobs), professional and business services (which saw 1,000 more jobs), and construction (which added 900 jobs in July).

The health care and social assistance sector grew by 13,900 jobs between July 2022 and July 2023 — or 5.2%. While the industry is still slightly below its March 2020 peak employment level, it is still the fastest-growing sector of employment, with each subset of the industry rapidly adding jobs. Nursing and residential-care facilities have added 2,800 jobs in the past year; hospitals added 1,900 jobs; and ambulatory health care services added 2,400 jobs in the past month. The Employment Department notes that ambulatory health care services has reached a record-high number of jobs, with 98,300 people working in the sector as of July 2023.

The biggest month-over-month declines were in financial activities, which lost 600 jobs, and manufacturing, which lost 500. Transportation, warehousing and utilities as a sector lost 500; private educational services also saw a decline of 500 jobs in July. OED notes that manufacturing as a sector has contracted over the past year, though there are exceptions: Transportation equipment manufacturing has grown by 400 jobs in the past year, and nondurable goods manufacturing — which includes food and beverage manufacturing — has added 1,300 jobs over the past year, though it cut 200 jobs in July.