Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% in March, down from 4.7% in February. For the past 20 months since August 2021, Oregon’s unemployment rate has remained relatively steady and near historic lows.
The unemployment rate averaged 4.3% in that time, while ranging between 3.5% and 4.8%. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.5% in March and 3.6% in February. In March, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2,400 jobs, following a revised loss of 2,700 jobs in February.
In March, gains were largest in health care and social assistance (+1,600 jobs) and professional and business services (+1,200). The only major industries to cut a substantial number of jobs were retail trade (-900 jobs) and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-500).
Health care and social assistance added jobs at a rapid pace over the past year. Since March 2022, it added 8,300 jobs, which was a 3.1% increase. Nearly all of the gains over the year were in social assistance, which added 5,400 jobs since March 2022 and is now 2,500 jobs above its pre-pandemic high. Hospitals added 800 jobs in March, following little gain during the prior 11 months.
Professional and business services grew rapidly over the past three years. It added 8,900 jobs, or 3.4%, since March 2022. One of its component industries, administrative and waste services, was a primary driver of jobs expansion lately, as it added 4,400 jobs, or 4.2%, in the past 12 months. Employing 110,400 in March, this large industry makes up one in 20 nonfarm payroll jobs in Oregon. It includes firms such as temporary help services, janitorial services, landscaping services, and telephone call centers.
Retail trade hovered close to 210,000 jobs throughout the past two years, with a slightly downward trend over the past year. Since March 2022, the broad retail trade sector lost 1,600 jobs (-0.8%). Most retail components cut between 100 and 600 jobs. The only published component industry expanding in that time was food and beverage retailers, which added 900 jobs.
Source: Oregon Employment Department