March 19, 2019 10:20 a.m.
Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in February.
New data from the State of Oregon Employment Department said that’s a slight increase from the 4.3 percent rate recorded for January. Oregon’s unemployment rate has ranged between 4.0 percent and 4.4 percent since November of 2016. The low of 4.0 percent occurred in May, June, and July of 2018.
Economist David Cooke said Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment changed little in February, losing just 500 jobs. That followed a revised gain of 12,800 jobs in January. Employment in financial activities, government, and construction continued to trend up, while transportation, warehousing and utilities decreased.
Cooke said since February of 2018, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment increased by 29,500 jobs or 1.5 percent. This growth rate was in line with the most recent nine months in which annual gains averaged 29,100 jobs.
In February, employment in financial activities gained 900 jobs. Over the last year, that category has added 1,200 jobs or 1.2 percent. Government expanded by 700 jobs last month and since February of 2018, it rose by 4,700 jobs or 1.6 percent. Construction added 600 jobs in February and led all categories with over-the-year growth of 4,600 jobs or 4.4 percent.
Transportation, warehousing, and utilities was the only major industry experiencing a large employment decline in February, cutting 1,800 jobs for the month. That followed a gain of 700 jobs in January. Despite the drop in February, the industry grew rapidly in the second half of 2018 and has been the second fastest growing industry in the past 12 months, adding 2,400 jobs or 3.8 percent in that time period.
Cooke said one component of the transportation industry, couriers and messengers has expanded rapidly since 2013. Employment jumped over 56 percent in that period and stood at 9,800 jobs in February of 2019.
Warehousing and storage, an industry dominated by warehouses of major national retailers, grew rapidly over the past 3 years. It employed 9,900 in February which is a gain of 2,500 jobs since February of 2016.
The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 3.8 percent in February, down from 4.0 percent in January.