Oregon’s Unemployment Rate is Climbing

More than 4% of the workforce in Oregon is unemployed as job openings plunged by nearly 5,000 compared with last year. There were 1.97 million employment posts statewide in January, according to a report released by the Oregon Employment Department.


Post- Pandemic Recovery Loses Momentum

Oregon’s post-pandemic recovery from recessionary conditions is losing momentum as unemployment figures climb. It is the first time since 2021 that the state has recorded a net job loss.

Employers are still battling to fill job vacancies despite a continual increase in the wage rate.

Although the jobs that were lost during the pandemic have been regained, Oregon’s stagnant population figures is said to have resulted in the slowdown of available jobs. There are not enough workers to keep the economy wheel turning, heralding the end of the post-pandemic employment boom.

The annual drop in employment is 0.2%, a sharp contrast to the addition of several thousand new posts added every month during the previous three years as Oregon recovered from the pandemic.


Oregon is Not Entering a Recession

However, the figures released by the Employment Department do not indicate that Oregon is entering a recession. The drop in employment is minimal when compared to the previous 12 months when a national 1.9% employment growth rate was recorded.

The Department of Labor’s economist, Gail Krumenauer, says in a new report that the slowdown in the state’s workforce vacancies was most prevalent towards the end of 2023.

The manufacturing industry was the hardest hit last year, shedding 3.4% of its workforce, says Krumenauer. The sector’s downward spiral began in 2022 when factories started cutting jobs; this trend continued for most of 2023.

According to the economist, the semiconductor industry has also been affected by a steady decline in its workforce after chipmakers started slowing down compared to the previous three years of growth.

Better results are predicted for the coming years as Intel factory upgrades and other state chip factory projects get underway.

Krumenauer says other Oregon industries that cut back employment posts last year were the retail, call centers, and building maintenance sectors, all of which never recovered from the economic impacts of the pandemic. Although the construction industry seemed to boom in 2023, no significant growth was recorded in the last 18 months.

She says that the sectors that experienced the best gains were Oregon’s health, hospitality, and local governments.


Job Growth Predictions

Oregon is expected to resume the job creation rate, according to state economists. They predict that 16,000 new jobs will become available this year. Krumenauer says that while this figure only amounts to a 1% increase, it nevertheless suggests a solid state economy.

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