Despite job growth, the unemployment rate continues to surpass the national average.
unemployment rate jumped from 5.5 to 5.9 percent in July, according to a recent state report. While below the
7.0 unemployment rate from a year ago, it still remains higher than the
national average of 5.3 percent.
as hiring accelerates—the state gained 55,900 jobs in the past year and 4,600
in the month of July—unemployment continues to lag behind the rest of the
Oregon, the southern and central regions are experiencing the highest
percentage of unemployment, with one in 12 facing joblessness in Curry, Grant
and Crook counties.
state has its unique unemployment issues,” says Oregon State Director Anthony
Smith. “Some of that has to do with the makeup of the economy.” An influx of new
job seekers and retirees affects the unemployment rate, but bad public
policy is a key factor, he says.
public policy matters when looking at data like the unemployment rate in Oregon
versus the rest of the country—and we know it does—then we can’t ignore the
recent actions of the Oregon State Assembly,” Smith says.
recent legislative session was one of the worst for
small business in the history of the state. “Businesses are going to
react to the environment that government creates,” Smith says. And they’re
going to look for a way to succeed, even if that means cutting jobs or
switching to automation, he says.
growth and a low labor force participation rate contributed to a tightening
labor market, with employers
finding it difficult to fill three in five positions. The majority of
job growth has happened in the private sector, with 7,800 jobs added—30 percent
of which were concentrated in the construction industry.
encouraging that Oregon is doing as well as we are, considering that we are
coming out of this recession with one arm tied behind our back,” Smith says. If
the state would redirect its public policy to help small business, instead of
restrict it, he believes it would see even more job growth and a lowered