Oregon’s unemployment rate fell below 6% for the first time since March 2020, when the state’s rate was 3.6%, according to the Oregon Department of Employment.
The unemployment rate of 5.9% in May is the same as the revised rate in April. The US unemployment rate fell to 5.8% in May from 6.1% in April.
The state registered a workforce of 2,165,460 in May, up from 54,455 in May 2020.
In Oregon, non-farm payroll employment increased by 6,900 in May, after monthly gains of 11,400 on average over the previous four months. Monthly gains in May were greatest in private education (+3,400 jobs); professional and commercial services (+2,900); building (+900); and financial activities (+900). Only one major industry lost more than 500 jobs in May: transportation, warehousing and utilities (-800 jobs).
In May, Oregon’s non-farm payroll employment stood at 1,864,000, a decrease of 109,000 jobs, or 5.5% from the pre-recession peak in February 2020. Employment in Oregon fell to a low of 1,687,500 in April 2020. Since then, Oregon has recovered 176,500 jobs, or 62% of the jobs lost between February and April 2020.
Recreation and hospitality make up the bulk of Oregon’s jobs that have not been clawed back since early 2020. It employed 169,600 jobs in May and added just 1,600 jobs in the past two months. The industry still has 46,700 jobs below its peak in February 2020, representing 43% of all non-farm payroll jobs lost since Oregon’s pre-recession peak.
The restaurants, bars and hotels that make up accommodation and food services have shown stable hiring trends over the past three months; the level of employment in this component of the industry was nearly 150,000 in March, April and May.
Local government is another industry that has a long way to go to get back to normal. Employment averaged 207,400 over the past 12 months, compared to an average of 229,000 in the last year before the 2019 recession. As of May, the local government employed 207,800. Local government education, including K-12 schools, community colleges, and public universities, accounts for more than half of all local government jobs.
A return to work before the pandemic is within reach for several large industries that have been less affected by the COVID recession, according to the Oregon Department of Employment. While the following industries still have not passed their pre-recession peak, each is within 3% of reaching that milestone: trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities; information; construction; and professional and business services.