October 14, 2020 10:40 a.m. 

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 8 percent in September, down from 8.5 percent, as revised, in August

A release from the Oregon Employment Department said for the past few months, Oregon’s unemployment rate has closely tracked the national unemployment rate which fell to 7.9 percent in September, down from 8.4 percent in August.

Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 5,100 jobs in September, following a revised gain of 16,200 jobs in August. Over the past three months, the rate of growth has slowed, with 39,000 jobs added in that time, following more rapid growth in May and June, when 83,100 jobs were added. The release said despite the recent slowdown, Oregon employers added jobs in each of the past five months, and the state has recovered 45 percent of the jobs cut in March and April.

Over-the-month job gains in September were largest in leisure and hospitality, which added 2,600 jobs. Financial trade and health care and social assistance each added 1,500 jobs. Retail trade gained 1,500 jobs while information added 1,200 jobs. Two industries cut a substantial number of jobs in September: construction lost 2,600 jobs and private educational services lost 1,400.

The release said leisure and hospitality continues to be the industry most impacted by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its employment bounced back substantially in in May and June but job gains have slowed over the past three months. Employment totaled 163,200 in September. That was down 53,400 jobs, or 24.7 percent since its peak month of February.

Manufacturing lost a substantial number of jobs this spring and hasn’t rebounded. Employment stood at 180,000 jobs in September, which was close to its level of the past five months.

In contrast, two major industries have risen to pre-pandemic employment levels. Retail trade rebounded rapidly, adding 4,700 jobs over the past two months. That left the sector down only 4,800 jobs or 2.3 percent since February. Health care and social assistance added 2,300 jobs over the past two months and was only 8,200 jobs, or 3.1 percent, below its recent high in February. Over the past twelve months, social assistance cut 4,900 jobs or 8.4 percent. However, healthcare declined by only 800 jobs in that time.