Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Oregon Employment Data: The Trends Behind the News

By Andrew Toth-Fejel, Bankruptcy Litigation Support for Attorneys, Andy@BLSforAttorneys.com

Yesterday (11/17/08) the Oregon Employment Department released statewide employment data for October 2008, highlighted by an unusually large 0.9% one-month increase in the unemployment rate to 7.3%. Even though the national average unemployment rate also went up--from 6.1% to 6.4%--this increase took the state in one month from slightly worse to significantly worse than the national average. Next month will give a better idea of the trend, particularly compared to the national average, but this large monthly unemployment rate increase is certainly troublesome considering the continued negative economic indications locally and nationally.

The news reports focus on a few items of that most grab the public's attention, but here I'll instead 1) provide easy access to the direct sources for this news, and 2) then give some valuable yet less publicized information gleaned from these sources.

The Sources

a) Here is the basic News Release from the State of Oregon Employment Department, a two-page summary of the employment and unemployment data for the month, broken down by industry.

b) A much more detailed 8-page report from the same source entitled Oregon’s Employment Situation: October 2008, which includes a number of tables and graphs, including a table of data comparing October 2008, September 2008, & October 2007 employment data broken down by industry and sub-industry.

c) The increase in the unemployment rate has triggered an Extended Benefit program for Oregon unemployment benefits, beginning the week of December 7, 2008. This is in addition to the usual 26-week program and the previously implemented 13-week Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. Here is a FAQ's sheet about this.

d) And here is a long Oregonian article on the story, although largely a re-hash of the Employment Department's data it also includes some noteworthy observations from some knowledgeable people such as Oregon's state economist Tom Potiowsky, Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, and John McGrath, owner of McGrath's Fish House, a 20-restaurant chain.

Important, Less Publicized Analysis

1) The Oregon Unemployment Rate Trend
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from January through June of 2008 had hovered between 5.4 and 5.6%, but has generally been climbing since then, with July at 5.9%, August at 6.5%, September at 6.4%, and now October at 7.3%.

2) Longer-Term Oregon Unemployment History
Although the unemployment rate has climbed steeply in the last few months, it has not (yet?) reached the early 2002 high point of about 7.9% or the highest point of the decade at about 8.5% in mid-2003. However, Tom Potiowsky, the state economist is saying that the rate could reach or exceed 8%, and others are predicting it will hit double-digits.

3) Total Payroll Employment Trends
Since mid-2003, Oregon nonfarm payroll employment had climbed from about 1,580,000 to a high of about 1,740,000 in very early 2008, but has fallen off sharply since especially this summer, with a reduction of 24,500 jobs since October 2007, and 3,100 of those between just September and October 2008.

4) Employment in the Legal Services Sub-industry
This sub-industry of the "Professional and business services" industry has continued to stay quite stable in the last year, with about 12,800 employees, no indicated change from last month, and about an increase of 100 since October of 2007. Compare this, for example, with one of the other sub-industries in the same industry, with a similar size employee base, "Architectural and engineering services," which lost about 300 positions in the last month and 1,700 in the last year.

The Next Shoe to Drop
The state economist, Tom Potiowsky, issues his quarterly economic forecast on Wednesday, 11/19/08.

by: Andrew Toth-Fejel
Bankruptcy Litigation Support for Attorneys

Please note that this writer is not licensed to practice law in Oregon. This means that he is not legally permitted to give any legal advice or provide and legal services. This Bulletin and the entire contents of this website is written only for attorneys. and is not intended for the public. If any non-attorney is reading this, you must consult an attorney about ANYTHING you read here. Nothing in this website is intended to be nor should be read as being legal advice to anyone.

© 2008 Bankruptcy Litigation Support for Attorneys