Oregon Employment data for February released

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 8.4 percent, unchanged from January. The February 2012 unemployment rate was 8.9 percent.

Industry Payroll Employment

On a seasonally adjusted basis, preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate nonfarm payroll employment in Oregon rose by 6,800 jobs in February. The private sector added 6,000 jobs over the month, while the public sector added 800.

Revised estimates for January show a gain of 5,400 jobs, when a gain of 4,200 was initially reported. Upward revisions were largest in leisure and hospitality and in professional and business services.

In February, five major industries added at least 800 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. These gains were partially offset by modest job losses in two major industries.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that construction activity increased significantly in February. The industry added 1,800 jobs when a loss of 900 was the normal seasonal movement. This spike upward followed a gradual decline during the prior year.

Manufacturing was expected to add 300 jobs in February due to normal seasonal factors, but added 1,100 instead. This better-than-expected reading put manufacturing back on track with its moderate recovery seen during the prior three years. Seasonally adjusted employment in manufacturing stood at 173,300 in February, which was well above its low point of 162,100 in late 2009.

Many of manufacturing’s component industries have expanded since February 2012, including wood products (up 800 jobs), primary metals (up 300), fabricated metals (up 500), machinery (up 300), transportation equipment (up 400) and nondurable goods (up 500).

Economists with the BLS estimate that leisure and hospitality added 2,600 jobs in February, at a time of year when a gain of 1,600 was expected due to seasonal factors. The industry is ramping up employment from January, which will likely be the seasonal low point for the year.

Since February 2012, leisure and hospitality has been one of the fastest-growing major industries. Over the past 12 months it added 5,400 jobs, or 3.4 percent. Food services and drinking places, a major component sector, has added 4,200 in that time.

The BLS estimates that government added 5,200 jobs in February, when a gain of 4,400 is the normal seasonal pattern for the month. This better-than-expected showing came on the heels of a more normal reading in January. Over the past 12 months, however, government employment is down 300 jobs, with federal government shedding 600, local government up 100 and state government adding 200.

Trade, transportation and utilities cut only 100 jobs in February, when a loss of 2,900 is the normal seasonal pattern. Wholesale trade shot up by 1,600 as several smaller firms on the business survey reported modest hiring. Gains here were strong across the board of the three component wholesale trade industries: durable goods (up 500 jobs); nondurable goods (up 400); and electronic markets and agents and brokers (up 700).

Similarly, the BLS estimated that transportation, warehousing and utilities rose much more than expected, with a monthly gain of 1,000 jobs. Nearly all of these gains were in the transportation component.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, professional and business services ticked down by 800 jobs, following a revised gain of 1,300 in January. Despite the loss in February, this major industry has seen a strong rebound over the past three years. Its component sector, professional and technical services, reached another record high in February, employing 78,200.

The BLS estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. These preliminary estimates are subject to revision.

Hours and Earnings

The average workweek for Oregon manufacturing production workers rose from 40.5 hours in January to 40.8 in February. The manufacturing workweek has been on a generally increasing trend for more than three years. In February 2012, this workweek averaged 39.5 hours.

In February, the average wage was $22.38 per hour for Oregon’s private-sector payroll employees, down slightly from $22.41 in January. Wages have increased 12 cents, or 0.5 percent, from February 2012 when the average was $22.26.

Unemployment

The national unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in February and 7.9 percent in January, while Oregon’s rate was 8.4 percent in both February and January.

In February, 178,782 Oregonians were unemployed. This was 14,084 fewer individuals than in February 2012 when 192,866 Oregonians were unemployed.

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