Portland unemployment falls to 4.4%

The Portland-metro unemployment rate fell to its lowest point since May 2000.

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The Oregon Employment Department said the metro unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent from 4.9 percent between December and January. The measure has not been that low since May 2000, and is now a half-point below the U.S. average. The Oregon-wide unemployment rate is 5.1 percent.

The new data show the drop in unemployment came despite a relatively slow month for hiring. The seven-county metro area gained a collective 300 new jobs, after adjusting for seasonal factors. Healthcare providers and contractors cut fewer jobs than they typically do at the start of the year, but factories and wholesalers slashed more. 

The area employment base has expanded 3.1 percent, or by 34,700 jobs, since the same time last year. The number of people who have a job has increased by 49,500, to nearly 1.19 million. The ranks of those still searching for work has fallen by 11,200, to 59,300.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)

Employment rates increased in all eight major metro areas in the state, according to Oregon Live.

Job vacancies in Oregon were up 4% in 2015’s fourth quarter, according to the state’s employment report.

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