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Oregon jobless rate falls; lowest in 6 1/2 years


Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent in January, down .4 of a percent and the lowest figure since July 2008, the state Employment Department reported Tuesday .

That continues the trend of decline seen since May 2009 , when Oregon’s rate peaked at 11.9 percent. The number of unemployed also declined to 124,000, from 138,000 a year ago, the agency said.

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 7,600 — the fourth time in five months the state has added more than 6,000 jobs.

In addition to Oregon’s continued economic growth, 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.

Employment set another record level in January and rose 55,600 above a year ago, a 3.3 percent increase. Oregon’s private sector grew by 49,100 jobs, or 3.5 percent. Meanwhile, government expanded by 6,500 jobs or 2.2 percent.

The fastest-growing of the major private-sector industries each grew by at least 4 percent over the year: retail trade (+8,000 jobs or 4.1%); manufacturing (+7,000 jobs or 4.0%); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (2,600 jobs or 4.6%); and professional and business services (+13,100 jobs or 6.1%).

Several component industries within professional and business services expanded at very rapid rates of near 6 percent or more, including computer systems design, management of companies, administrative services, and employment services.

With the Great Recession, Oregon’s jobless rate peaked in 2009 at 11.9 percent.

Putting Oregon’s employment growth into perspective, the rate of growth has steadily accelerated over the past few years: jobs grew 1.4 percent in 2012, 2.4 percent in 2013, and 3.3 percent in the past 12 months.

This most recent over the-year growth of 3.3 percent is the fastest pace since June 2006 . Other than brief periods during 2004 through 2006, the last time Oregon jobs grew faster was the four-year period ending in July 1997, when Oregon averaged 4.0 percent growth.

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