SALEM, Ore. - Oregon's unemployment rate dropped to 4.0 percent in February, from 4.3 percent in January -- the lowest unemployment rate since comparable records began in 1976, the Oregon Employment Department reported Tuesday.
Oregon's 4.0 percent unemployment rate was significantly lower than the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.7 percent in February.
In February, the number of unemployed Oregonians dropped to about 82,000, which was the lowest number since August 1995 when about 82,000 were unemployed. By contrast, the labor force has grown from just under 1.7 million in 1995 to over 2.0 million today.
In February, nonfarm payroll employment surged ahead by 8,200 following a revised gain of 700 in January. Government grew the most of the major sectors, as it added 4,400 jobs, rebounding from a loss of 3,400 jobs in January. Similarly, health care and social assistance shot up by 2,400 jobs in February following a loss of 1,700 the prior month.
Manufacturing added 1,300 after a loss of 200 in January. Construction continued to grow rapidly by adding 900 jobs in February, following a strong gain of 2,500 in January. Only one major industry cut more than 600 jobs in February as transportation, warehousing and utilities shed 1,400.
Over the past 12 months, payroll employment added 39,900 jobs, or 2.2 percent, which was a slight deceleration from the growth rate near or above 3 percent throughout much of the past four years. Oregon is still growing faster than the U.S. growth rate of 1.6 percent.
Since February 2016, Oregon's growth was very fast in construction, which added 8,900 jobs, or 10.0 percent. Other industries that grew rapidly were health care and social assistance (+8,700 jobs, or 3.8%); financial activities (+3,600 jobs, or 3.8%); and information (+1,100 jobs, or 3.3%). Meanwhile only three industries cut jobs over the year: manufacturing (-400 jobs, or -0.2%); mining and logging (-200 jobs, or -2.6%); and wholesale trade (-200 jobs, or -0.3%).
Gov. Kate Brown issued the following statement on the record-low unemployment report.
"Oregon's historic jobs gains over the last few months mean Oregonians in every corner of the state are closer to gaining the opportunities they need to thrive. We must continue this progress by creating good jobs in the places that need them most,” Brown said.
“The health care and social assistance sector are key to Oregon’s economic momentum, adding 8,700 jobs this February. While Oregon has had historic job growth, unfortunately the proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act puts more than 23,000 health care jobs at risk. Congress must stop playing politics and consider the drastic consequences to Oregon’s economy.”