Oregon Employment Department Release August Summary


Yesterday, the Oregon Employment Department released the August unemployment rate and jobs numbers for Oregon.

Oregon’s unemployment rate had another significant drop, from 5.2% in July to 4.9% in August.

  • The number of unemployed Oregonians fell by 6,500 over the month.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.4% in July, and fell to 5.2% in August.
  • Oregon’s unemployment rate improved from its all-time high of 13.2% to below 4.9% in 17 months.
  • By comparison, after peaking at 12.3% during the Great Recession, it took Oregon’s unemployment rate more than six years (80 months) to drop below 5%.

Oregon’s unemployment rate has only been below 5.0% during two other periods of time; both were among the strongest economic expansion times in the state.

Oregon’s jobs recovery continued in August, and the labor market continued to tighten. Employers added 7,900 jobs to nonfarm payrolls. As of August, Oregon has regained 72% of the jobs lost in the spring of 2020, compared with 76% for the U.S. Employers continue adding jobs to their payrolls at a relatively fast pace. Oregon added more than 80,000 jobs in the past 8 months. 

Government added 3,500 jobs in August. These gains were concentrated in local government, reflecting public K-12 schools and public higher education staffing up for the school year and the return of in-person instruction. 

Other sectors with large gains over the month included wholesale trade (+1,400 jobs), leisure and hospitality (+1,200), and professional and business services (+1,000). Leisure and hospitality employers have added as many jobs in the past 8 months as they did in the five years (61 months) leading up to the pandemic.

Within professional and business services, the professional and technical services (architectural, engineering, computer systems design) has been the strongest part of the economy coming out of the recession. These employers had 4,300 more jobs in August 2021 than they did in February 2020. 

The only broad area of Oregon’s economy to lose jobs in August was retail trade, which dropped 1,900 jobs. Although retail has regained 9 out of 10 jobs lost in the spring of 2020, this August was the second month of job losses in retail. 

Back to Work Update 

The Employment Department continues focusing on helping people find jobs or new careers and assisting employers in finding talented workers. We launched our Back To Work Campaign today in partnership with WorkSource Oregon.

WorkSource Oregon and partners are coordinating job fairs and hiring events across Oregon in 24 locations. Scavenger hunts, job fairs, drive thru and virtual hiring events, and even a ‘Large Business Extravaganza’.

People can find out what events are happening in their area by contacting their local WorkSource center or at WorkSourceOregon.org. All events will follow the state and CDC guidance to make sure everyone is safe during these events. To ensure the safety of our visitors and employees and prevent further spread of COVID-19, all customers and employees must wear masks.

Employment Department employees have a deep well of experience helping people find work during and after a recession, and the dedicated and knowledgeable employees can help people find the right job or training. Additional hiring events are scheduled throughout September and the rest of the year.

Benefits Paid

The Oregon Employment Department paid $10.9 billion in benefits to more than 616,000 people from March 15, 2020, to Sept. 14, 2021. Last week, we paid about $89 million to 115,000 people. Detailed information can be found on the media dashboard.

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