Oregon's jobless rate falls to 8.2%



Local angle

March job-growth and unemployment figures for Washington will be released Wednesday. A similar report on the performance of Clark County’s labor market in March will be issued April 23. In the 12 months ending in February, the state added a net 65,000 jobs. The state’s preliminary jobless rate in February was 7.5 percent.

In the 12 months through February, Clark County added a net 2,500 jobs. The county’s preliminary unemployment rate in February — 9.6 percent — will likely be revised upward to roughly 11 percent to account for unemployed county residents who previously worked in Oregon. A similar revision drove up January’s initial jobless rate of 9.9 percent to 11.4 percent.

PORTLAND — Oregon's unemployment rate continues to inch lower, hitting 8.2 percent last month, as employers continue to add jobs, state officials said Tuesday.

The unemployment rate is the lowest since October 2008, when the nation was dropping into a severe recession that eventually uprooted 147,700 jobs in the state, The Oregonian reported. The rate that fall was 7.7 percent.

A slow recovery followed, and the state's unemployment rate ricocheted between 8.4 percent and 8.9 percent for the past year.

The state has added jobs for four straight months, at an average of 3,800 a month, the state Employment Department reported.

In March, though, the pace slowed, with private employers adding 2,700 jobs and government cutting 800, for a net addition of 1,900. That came after a February addition of 6,600.

An estimated 167,700 Oregon workers were unemployed last month, 8,800 fewer than in February. The state's workforce also declined, by 10,800. Neither count is adjusted for seasonal factors.

The trend in Oregon is a declining workforce.

In February, the percentage of Oregonians in the labor market fell to a new low: 62.6 percent. Some of the shift is tied to demographics as baby boomers retire and leave the workforce. But economists have said that it's a troubling sign that labor force growth hasn't picked up as the economy continues to improve.

A broader measure of employment that also takes into account people who have stopped looking for work or who can't find enough hours in their current job puts Oregon's underemployment rate at 17.2 percent, on average, for 2012. That's one of the highest rates in the U.S.