In spite of signs showing significant job growth during the month of March in Portland, Oregon, the numbers have done little to shorten unemployment lines.
A report published by the Oregon Employment Department on Monday shows a job growth of approximately 5,600 positions in March, which is double that of last year’s average. Yet, the unemployment rate remained fixed at 6.4 percent, neither gaining nor receding from February’s rate.
Looking at it another way, the stagnation of the unemployment rate signals that more job seekers are finding their way back into the labor market and securing positions, marking an increase in movement into the labor pool for a fifth straight month. Just within the Portland metro area’s neighboring seven counties, 28,000 new jobs have been added over the last twelve months, with a job growth rate that falls a hair short of the statewide average of 2.8 percent, sitting at 2.7 percent.
Industries that felt the economic blow the most have also seen growth over the last year, with more jobs available in both the regional finance and public sectors.
Regional economist Amy Vander Vliet states in the report that the overall gain in jobs is a clear indication of a healthy economy, boasting two industries in the lead as the leisure and hospitality and construction.
Other hopeful signs are the telltale numbers. In just the month of March, there were 82,400 unemployed people. This is 9,900 fewer unemployed than last year in March. In addition to this, an encouraging 8,500 more people than last year joined the metro Portland labor pool.
Looking at the last twelve-month period, the unemployment rate has dropped from 7.5 percent to 6.4 percent, coming just under the state and national averages, which were at 6.9 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.
Looking across the state of Oregon, several counties posted unemployment rates that beat state and national averages, as well. However, double-digit rates still plague six counties, while Benton and Hood River counties boast the lowest at 5.5 percent. The county with the highest unemployment is Harney County, which sits at 11.3 percent.