Job Market Remains Tight


Oregon’s unemployment rate was 3.5% in July, unchanged from 3.5%, as revised, in June. The U.S. unemployment rate was also 3.5% in July. Oregon’s unemployment rate has tracked very closely with the national unemployment rate for the past two years, with both rates declining rapidly during May 2020 through early 2022 as the economies recovered. Over the past five months, unemployment rates for the U.S. and Oregon have averaged 3.6%, near record lows dating back almost 50 years.

The labor market is tight, and many people have gotten back to work. Over the past two years, Oregon’s labor force participation rate rose rapidly. The share of the population 16 and older that is either employed or unemployed reached 63.5% in July, its highest rate in a decade.

In Oregon, nonfarm payroll employment grew by 4,200 in July, following gains averaging 6,300 jobs in the prior eight months. Monthly gains in July were largest in leisure and hospitality (+1,500 jobs), other services (+1,400), manufacturing (+1,300), and private educational services (+1,300). Retail trade (-700 jobs) was the only major industry that shed a substantial number of jobs.

As of July, Oregon has regained 94% of jobs lost at the onset of the pandemic. The U.S. has regained 100%. Oregon’s private sector is close to a full jobs recovery, having regained 99% of pandemic recession losses. However, Oregon’s government sector has only regained 49% of the jobs it lost during March through June 2020.

Professional and technical services was one of the fastest growing industries over the past two years. It added 1,900 jobs in July and has grown by 10,400 jobs since February 2020. Over the past 12 months, architectural and engineering services added 1,700 jobs, or 9.4%, which was the highest growth rate of the component industries within professional and technical services.

Retail trade has inched downward since late last year. In July, it dropped to 209,000 jobs, which is back to where it was in late 2016. Over the past 12 months, the weakest retail trade sectors were building material and garden supply stores (-1,700 jobs) and general merchandise stores (-2,400 jobs).

Next Press Releases

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the July county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, Aug. 23, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for August on Wednesday, Sept. 14.



All numbers in the above narrative are seasonally adjusted, except for the component industries within retail trade and professional and technical services.

The Oregon Employment Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) work cooperatively to develop and publish monthly Oregon payroll employment and labor force data. The estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. The estimates of unemployment are based on a survey of households and other sources.

The Oregon Employment Department publishes payroll employment estimates that are revised by using employment counts from employer unemployment insurance tax records. All department publications use this Official Oregon Series data unless noted otherwise. This month’s release incorporates the October, November and December 2021 tax records data. The department continues to make the original nonfarm payroll employment series available; these data are produced by the BLS.