Employment Department’s final 2014 report shows growth for state economy

Job growth in Oregon at pre-recession heights after strong finish to the year.

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Job growth in Oregon at pre-recession heights after strong finish to the year.

OregonLive.com ran down some highlights of the report that was released on Wednesday:

  • The state gained more than 53,000 jobs in the past year, more than in 2011 and 2012 combined.
  • Nearly half of those came during the final three months of 2014, a positive sign coming into this year. Collectively, they were the best three months for job growth since 1990. December alone accounted for 8,200 new jobs.
  • The unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in December, the lowest it has been since August 2008, shortly before the financial crisis. The rate had been stuck near 7.0 percent for most of 2014.

The Statesman Journal interviewed economist David Cooke, who explained the boost in employment numbers.

“We had a strong payroll employment report for the December numbers,” said David Cooke, an economist with the Oregon Employment Department. “But the labor force did not grow much between November and December. Therefore, that resulted in a drop in the number of people unemployed.”

For most of 2014 the unemployment rate remained little changed because both the number of jobs and the number of people seeking them grew rapidly, he said.

“Oregon’s seeing an even stronger rate of job growth compared with the U.S.,” Cooke said. “The unemployment rate dropping is good news, although we’re still substantially above the U.S. unemployment rate of 5.6 percent.”

Gov. John Kitzhaber celebrated the numbers, as reported by the Portland Tribune.

Gov. John Kitzhaber praised the job growth and said the state should “build on this momentum and ensure that this economic growth is reaching across the state and good jobs with benefits are being created that help middle class families meet their basic needs.”

“Oregon’s economy is growing and we’re seeing the results of our efforts to improve the business climate and provide small businesses with the tools they need to grow,” Kitzhaber said.

Employers in the state provided 47,100 non-agriculture jobs in 2014 with 82 percent of those coming from the private sector, according to the Register Guard.

The professional and business services sector — which includes everything from computer software programmers to call center workers — added 9,500 jobs, the largest gain for a single industry.

Trade and transportation employment rose by 7,900 jobs, health care and social assistance rose by 7,700, while manufacturers added 5,900.

About 61.8 percent of Oregon adults eligible for work were employed or actively looking for a job in December, a 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted rise in the labor force participation rate over December 2013, according to state data.


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