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Unemployment Rates In Oregon And Washington Drop In February

March 16, 2011

Map of Oregon and WashingtonOregon's economy took a positive turn in February with 9,800 new jobs and a 0.2 point dip in the jobless rate. However, the state needs additional jobs to drop the 10.2 percent unemployment figure into single digits. "I am hesitant to use the word 'recovery,'" Bill Conerly, a Lake Oswego economist and business consultant, told The Oregonian. "We are nowhere close to having regained all the lost ground. But we are moving in the right direction."

The Register Guard reports the state's seasonally-adjusted, monthly job gain in February was the biggest since 1996. The construction industry added 1,200 jobs, good news for a business area experiencing 800 job losses per month. Specialty trades, such as plumbing and electrical work saw 1,000 new jobs created. The manufacturing sector gained 2,400 jobs, with 600 in computer and electronics. Professional and business services added 3,300 jobs, nearly three times the traditional increase.

Oregon's outlying regions didn't fare as well, however, according to The Oregonian. Those areas lost a number of jobs last month, sinking the rural unemployment rate deeper into double digits. With nearly 218,000 individuals out of work, Oregon's unemployment rate is 1.3 points higher than the 8.9 percent national average. It has been in the double digits for 24 consecutive months, the Clackamas Review reveals. That's one quarter shy of the 28-month record for double-digit unemployment set between 1981 and 1983.

Like its neighbor, Washington state's employment numbers also improved. After job losses were calculated, the state added a total of 800 new jobs in February, which bumped its unemployment rate down 0.1 point to 9.1 percent, state officials reported to the Seattle PI. About 341,000 people remain jobless. Job growth occurred in several areas including government (1,700 jobs), leisure and hospitality (1,600 jobs) and construction (3,900 jobs).

In response to the construction's industry growth, Dave Wallace, Washington's chief labor economist, told OPB News, "One of the things to remember about this sector, having been down so far, it's got a lot of ground to make up. So that might be part of it. It could also be remodeling and foreclosures and so forth, but we really don't know exactly where it's coming from."

Across the Northwest, business leaders are cautiously optimistic, notes The Oregonian. Some, are advising business clients to prepare for another recession. Conerly continues, "I'm guessing that the risk has gone from, like, a 10 percent probability of another recession soon, to a 15 percent probability," he said. "I'm just not sleeping as well at night."


Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff

Sources:

"Jobless rates in Oregon, Wash. tick down in February," news.opb.org, March 15, 2011, Tom Banse

"Oregon adds 9,800 jobs in February, dropping jobless rate to 10.2 percent," oregonlive.com, March 15, 2011, Richard Read

"State adds jobs as unemployment rate is stuck at 10.2 percent," clackamasreview.com, March 15, 2011

"State gains jobs in February," registerguard.com, March 16, 2011, Ilene Aleshire

"Washington unemployment rate drops to 9.1 percent," seattlepi.com, March 15, 2011, Chris Grygiel

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