Oregon’s unemployment rate officially hits pre-recession levels

6.3 percent represents the lowest level of unemployment since July 2008.

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The Employment Department said Tuesday that January 2015 marked the lowest unemployment rate in Oregon since July 2008.

The statewide jobless level is now at 6.3 percent, the Portland Tribune reports.

At the same time, state officials reported March 3 that employment rose by 7,600 jobs in January, the fourth time in five months Oregon has added more than 6,000 jobs in a month. January’s mild weather helped outdoor industries, including construction, to keep more workers on the job than they might usually at this time of year. Employment set another record level in January and rose 55,600 above a year ago. Oregon’s private sector grew by 49,100 jobs. Government expanded by 6,500 jobs.

The fastest growing private-sector industries in the past year were retail trade (adding 8,000 jobs); manufacturing (up 7,000 jobs); transportation, warehousing and utilities (up 2,600 jobs); and professional and business services (adding 13,100 jobs).

While the warm winter has been troublesome to some industries, OregonLive.com reports that the springtime weather in January bolstered hiring in the state.

“January weather was unusually mild, which allowed many outdoor industries, particularly construction, to keep more workers on the job than they might usually at this time of year,” the report said. 

Contractors gained 1,400 jobs that month, after adjusting for seasonal factors. … Private educators suffered the largest setback in January, as colleges and other firms cut 1,900 jobs.  All told, Oregon’s employment base expanded 3.3 percent over the past year, more than twice as fast as in 2012 (when it grew 1.4 percent). The state’s unemployment rate has fallen from 9.1 percent to 6.3 percent over the past two years. 

The Portland Business Journal noted that the numbers represent a larger development:

“This continues the trend of decline we’ve seen since May 2009, when Oregon’s rate peaked at 11.9 percent,” noted state economists from the Oregon Employment Department in a release announcing the January rate.