September 15, 2021 3:30 a.m.

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent in August, down from 5.2 percent in July.

An update from the Oregon Employment Department said this was the first time Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped below 5 percent, since March of 2020, when the rate was 3.6 percent. OED said Oregon’s unemployment rate was below 5 percent in only two other periods since 1976 when comparable records began. That was during 14 consecutive months in the mid-1990s when the rate dropped to as low as 4.5 percent and during the 51 consecutive months during 2016 through March of 2020, when the rate dropped to a record low of 3.3 percent in late 2019.

OED said nonfarm payroll employment grew by 7,900 in August, following monthly gains averaging 10,300 in the prior seven months. The largest gains in August were in government which added 3,500 jobs, wholesale trade where 1,400 jobs were added, leisure and hospitality with a gain of 1,200 jobs and professional and business services where 1,000 jobs were added. Only one major industry cut jobs. That was retail trade which lost 1,900 jobs.

Since the low point of April 2020, at the economic depths of the COVID-induced recession, Oregon has recovered 204,700 jobs, or 72 percent of the jobs lost during the recession.

OED said leisure and hospitality added 1,200 jobs in August, following a gain of 6,100, as revised, in July. Despite those gains, it still accounts for the bulk of Oregon’s jobs not recovered since early 2020, with 43,300 jobs left to recover to reach the prior peak month of February 2020. The industry has regained 60 percent of jobs lost early in the pandemic.

Nationally, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 5.2 percent in August from 5.4 percent in July.