Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 7.0 percent in December from 7.3 percent in November. December marked Oregon's lowest unemployment rate since August 2008, when the rate was 6.7 percent.
In December, Oregon's unemployment rate fell as more people were able to find jobs and there were fewer unemployed. There were nearly 132,000 Oregonians unemployed compared with approximately 160,000 a year earlier. This drop of more than 28,000 individuals since December 2012 was good news for many families in the state and for many sectors of Oregon's economy.
Oregon's job growth in 2013 was much stronger than in the prior two years. In 2013, 37,700 jobs were added, compared with 22,000 in 2012 and 18,400 in 2011.
In recent months the pace of expansion has accelerated. Seasonally adjusted payroll employment rose 4,400 in December, following a revised gain of 4,300 in November. Monthly gains have been the norm for some time now, with gains occurring in 13 of the past 15 months. These payroll employment figures are estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Job gains in December were concentrated in three of the 11 major industries: professional and business services (+1,600 jobs), government (+1,200) and other services (+900).
Professional and business services grew rapidly in December and throughout last year. The sector gained 7,500 jobs, or 3.8 percent, since December 2012, to grow faster than any major industry other than construction. It reached another all-time high in December, on a seasonally adjusted basis. Each of its three component industries (professional and technical services, management of companies and enterprises, and administrative and waste services) expanded rapidly over the past three years.
The standout industry was professional and technical services, which employed a total of 82,200 jobs in December. This industry includes legal services, architectural and engineering services, and computer systems design.
Government cut only 1,700 jobs in December, during a month when a loss of 2,900 is expected due to seasonal factors. State government was close to a record high as it employed 82,700 in December, a gain of 1,200 in 12 months. State education was up 600 jobs in that time, as was the balance of state government. Meanwhile, local government employed only 183,800 in December, which was its lowest December figure in nine years. All three components of local government (local education, Indian tribal, and other local government) were below year-ago figures.
Other services added 400 jobs when a loss of 500 is the normal seasonal movement for December. According to the BLS estimates, employment growth accelerated over the last three years. The industry added more than 2,000 jobs in 2013, which was equal to a growth rate of 3.7 percent. Other services is a major industry group comprised of component industries including repair and maintenance; personal and laundry services; and membership associations.