Devastating wildfires have ravaged workplaces, homes, communities, and more than 1 million acres of land across Oregon over the past several days. This release covers the Oregon employment situation in August. It does not capture the personal and economic disruption caused by these disasters.
Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent in August from 10.4 percent in July. The unemployment rate was more than double last year’s rate of 3.6 percent in August 2019. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent in August from 10.2 percent in July.
Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 11,300 jobs in August, following a revised gain of 17,700 jobs in July. Over the past four months, employers added back 41 percent of the jobs that were cut in March and April.
Over-the-month job gains in August were largest in leisure and hospitality (+4,200 jobs); retail trade (+3,300); construction (+3,200); and government (+3,000). Two industries cut a substantial number of jobs in August: wholesale trade (-1,400 jobs) and health care and social assistance (-1,400).
Leisure and hospitality—which includes restaurants, drinking establishments, hotels, and recreational industries—has added back the most jobs of any of the major industries over the past four months. Despite adding 63,200 jobs during the past four months, leisure and hospitality is only a little over halfway back to its February 2020 peak employment level, prior to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail trade has bounced back closer to its recent peak employment level. It added 16,100 jobs over the past four months, which was nearly three-quarters of the jobs lost earlier in the year. The third industry to add back more than half of its jobs lost, while also rebounding by more than 10,000 jobs, was health care and social assistance. This industry, despite a 1,400-job loss in August, added 18,000 jobs over the past four months, regaining nearly two-thirds of its March and April job losses.
Not all industries have rebounded with substantial job growth over the past four months. In August, the following industries remained near their low point for the year: manufacturing; government; information; and professional and business services.