County-By-County Employment Data Shows Quick Job Growth in Portland Area

Oregon's leisure and hospitality sector added 1,900 jobs this year.

Breakdown of August jobs numbers shows flattened unemployment rates and more Oregonians returning to the workforce

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Unemployment remained flat in six of Oregon’s 36 counties last month — but grew in the remaining 30, according to data released by the Oregon Department of Employment Tuesday.

Between August 2021 and August 2022, total nonfarm employment rose in all six broad regions across Oregon, according to the state’s county-by-county employment data report.

The five Portland-metro counties saw 2.7% year-over-year job growth. Employment also grew at a relatively fast pace in the Central Oregon region (2.6%), the Willamette Valley (2.3%), and the Coast (1.8%).

Growth occurred at a slower pace in Southern Oregon (1.1%) and in Eastern Oregon (1.1%), which also have the state’s highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rates. Unemployment was 5.5% in Grant County last month; Klamath County reported 5.3% unemployment, whereas Curry and Josephine Counties each reported 5% unemployment. But Wheeler County, also situated in Eastern Oregon, registered the lowest unemployment rate in the state, at 2.7%.

Other counties with notably low unemployment rates in August were Hood River (2.9%), Sherman (2.9%), Washington (2.9%), and Benton (3.0%).

Last week’s jobs report showed unemployment had ticked up to 3.7% in August compared with 3.5% in July. But the economy also added jobs in August, suggesting the increased unemployment rate is to due an uptick in the number of job seekers entering the market.

Overall, Oregon has the same average unemployment rate as the rest of the country — and the state’s unemployment rate remains low by historical standards. In Oregon, nonfarm payroll employment grew by 9,300 in August of this year, following an upwardly revised gain of 13,000 jobs in July. Monthly gains in August were largest in government (+3,800 jobs), leisure and hospitality (+1,900), construction (+1,400), professional and business services (+1,000), and manufacturing (+900) sectors.

Other services lost 800 jobs and financial activities lost 700 jobs. They were the only major industries to cut over 500 jobs. The gains in total nonfarm payroll jobs in July and August, reached a record employment total of 1,974,700 jobs in August, which was 2,500 jobs above the pre-pandemic peak reached in February 2020.

Local government positions defied typical seasonal pattern, as local schools experienced fewer summer job reductions than normal, adding jobs in both July and August. This trend followed the first six months of the year, when local government employment averaged nearly 12,000 fewer jobs than in 2019, before the COVID-19 recession.

With fewer short-term job reductions in July and August of this year, local government education employed a total of 108,600 in August, which was 2,500 above its level in August 2019.

The Sept. 14 jobs report showed the private sector has also regained all of the jobs it lost during the pandemic recession.

Despite inflation, raising interest rates and fears of recession, it appears Oregonians are working, and businesses are hiring.


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