Job growth levels off in May

Thousands search for work as the drop in the Oregon jobless rate stalled.

Share this article!


Thousands searched for work in May as the drop in the Oregon jobless rate stalled.

The Oregon Employment Department said Tuesday that hiring declined statewide in May and the unemployment rate edged up slightly, from 5.2 to 5.3 percent. The retail, manufacturing and hospitality industries all added hundreds of fewer jobs than than expected in May. State officials estimate that Oregon lost a total of 1,400 jobs after factoring in such seasonal trends. It was the first setback for employment growth since September 2012. Given the long streak of job gains, experts say last month’s hiring slowdown is likely more of a blip than a beacon.

“If you string a couple of these together, then we’ll start to be a little more worried,” said Josh Lehner, the deputy state economist.


In the last year, the percentage of unemployed workers has decreased from 7 percent to 5.3 percent. Lehner said in the story that some metrics are encouraging for a strong labor market, citing a decrease in unemployment insurance applications and an increase in tax withholdings and job openings.

According to the Portland Business Journal, the tourism industry was a leader in hiring as leisure and hospitality companies added 4,100 jobs. Government positions increased by 2,800 and the construction industry was bolstered by filling 1,900 new positions.

The national rate for May was 5.5 and 5.4 percent in April. At the same time, the state saw a drop of about 1,400 jobs in May, the first monthly drop since September 2012. Despite the one-month decline in jobs, employment was still up substantially, having added 50,500 jobs, or 2.9 percent, since May 2014.

State employment officials said most industries hired close to their normal, seasonal numbers of jobs in May. Retail trade added only 700 jobs in May, when an increase of 2,100 is its seasonal norm. Officials said the state’s real wages are growing, with average hourly earnings increased 2.2 percent in a year for Oregon’s private-sector employees.

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)