Oregon Unemployment Update
For the 15th consecutive month, July continued a downward trend in unemployment with a rate of 5.2%. The unemployment rate has declined rapidly over the past two months after slower declines in the first five months of 2021. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 5.4% in July from 5.9% in June.
Oregon’s July unemployment rate has declined dramatically from the high of 13.2% in April 2020. However, Oregon’s unemployment rate is still above the period of record-low rates prior to the pandemic. Between January 2017 through March 2020, Oregon’s unemployment rate was averaging 3.9%. Below is a chart of Oregon unemployment rates from January 2020 to July 2021.
Continued weekly claims mirror the decline in overall unemployment. August is already seeing a decline in continued claims with 43,434 claims in the final week of July to 41,894 the first week of August. With the return to in-person learning for most children in September and the end to enhanced Federal benefits, Oregon, and the nation, should be close to pre-pandemic rates by the end of 2021 or Q2 of 2022.
Nationally Job Openings Surge Above 10 Million
The number of job openings in the U.S. economy jumped to more than 10 million in June, the highest on record, as the U.S. labor market continues a choppy recovery from last year’s economic shutdowns, the Labor Department said last Monday.
There were 10.1 million open jobs on the final day of June, the report said, up from 9.2 million in May. Economist polled by Dow Jones were expecting 9.1 million openings. The jump came as the quits rate increased while the layoffs and discharges rate was unchanged, reflecting increased bargaining power and employment options for workers.
By industry, leisure and hospitality show one of the highest level of job openings at more than 1.6 million. Health care and social assistance has 1.5 million openings.
“Labor demand keeps getting stronger. This is the third straight month of record-breaking job openings,” Indeed Hiring Lab director of research Nick Bunker said in a note. “The quits rate is also close to its all-time high, which was set just two months ago in April. This wave of demand will eventually recede, but job seekers should ride it until then.”
Despite the unemployment rate remaining above 5% and the U.S. economy being millions of jobs short of pre-pandemic levels, many businesses have reported difficulty finding workers. Nominal wage gains, especially among non-management employees, also points to a tighter labor market.
The job openings survey was conducted before the July jobs report released last week which showed the economy adding 954,000 jobs. Hiring has accelerated during the summer after some disappointing results earlier in the year.
The Labor Department said in Friday’s jobs report there were 8.7 million Americans looking for work, meaning there were more open jobs than potential workers. To be sure, improving economies and tight labor markets can bring workers off of the sidelines and back into the labor force.
The high level of job openings comes even as some states have ended the extra unemployment benefits that were created during the pandemic in an effort to motivate Americans to return to work. The extra benefits are set to expire for the rest of the country next month.