The steady improvement of Oregon’s job picture continued in March, with the unemployment rate falling to 3.8%, down from 4% in February. That low rate is creeping closer to Oregon’s record-low unemployment rate before the COVID-19 pandemic, when it was 3.4%.
State employment officials are reporting a gain of 5,600 nonfarm jobs last month, on top of a revised addition of 9,700 jobs the month before.
The improvement in the job picture continues a rebound since the jobless rate spiked two years ago when businesses shuttered due to the pandemic. Employment economist Gail Krumenauer said jobs are almost all the way back to pre-COVID numbers.
“Oregon has regained about nine out of 10 jobs that were lost in the pandemic recession — that’s similar to the U.S.,” Krumenauer said in a video posted Wednesday by the Oregon Employment Department.
The strongest job growth is in the construction and financial activities sectors, which together accounted for 2,900 of the new jobs in March.
The state employment department’s announcement of the job numbers pointed out two recent trends: a “hot real estate sector” and a leisure and hospitality sector that has “cooled, at least temporarily.”
The OED release said that “real estate and rental and leasing” was responsible for all of the growth in the broader finance sector, adding 1,400 jobs in March. Economists said leisure and hospitality’s gain of 900 jobs reflects a slowdown, considering the sector has brought back more than 38,000 jobs since March 2021, when the state’s seasonally-adjusted jobless rate was much higher at 6.1%.