Oregon’s Job Loss Despair Continues

Oregon’s Department of (Un)Employment released September results last week. In short they were abysmal and continued Oregon’s slide into third world status. And, as usual, neither the unemployment numbers, nor the press conference accompanying them, tell the real story of the job loss suffered by Oregonians.

Oregon reached peak employment in February of 2008. At that time the total non-farm employment level was 1,739,100. As of October 1, total employment levels have dropped to 1,593,300. That is a real job loss of 145,800. But that still does not tell the real story.

From February of 2008 through September of 2010, state government grew by 4,000 jobs and local government grew by 2,200. Thus, in reality, private sector Oregonians actually lost 152,000 jobs, while the government class gained 6,200 jobs.

But that still does not tell the whole story. During that same period of time Oregon’s total workforce (those available for employment) grew from 1,935,823 in February of 2008 to 1,970,063 through September of 2010. That means there are an additional 34,240 Oregonians who have entered the workforce with no prospects of finding a job.

With a total eligible workforce of 1,970,063 and a beleaguered job market of only 1,593,300, that means that 376, 763 Oregonians are unable to find work.

And the job losses experienced by Oregonians have occurred in the “meat and potato” segments of the workforce. Manufacturing has dropped from 207,800 in April of 2006 (its peak) to 160,300 in September of 2010. Construction has dropped from 105,500 in March of 2007 (its peak) to 65,900 in September of 2010 and Trade and Transportation dropped from 341,500 in February of 2008 (its peak) to 309,800 in September of 2010. Finance dropped from 108,200 in March of 2007 to 93,000 now. Professional services dropped from 198,900 in March of 2008 to 177,600 now. Leisure and Hospitality dropped from 175,100 in February of 2008 to 166,500 now. Even Health and Educational Services has experienced a slight reduction.

Of the major categories of service in Oregon, only government has grown. That is government and the public employees unions.

You might think that it is a cheap shot to refer to Oregon’s Department of (Un)Employment but it is the reality of the situation. A press conference accompanying the release of the March unemployment numbers reflected the administration’s indifference. Responding to a question from a reporter about what the state needs to do to improve the job situation, the administration spokeswoman basically responded that there was nothing they could do; that they simply had to wait for something to happen on a national level. And that pretty much tells the story – it isn’t their fault and there is nothing they can do. One wonders why we need them then.

But while the Democrats deny responsibility for the job losses, they – in the form of gubernatorial candidate, John Kitzhaber – are quick to take credit for any historical job increases. How does that work?

Twenty-four years of Democrat administrations. Twenty-four years of believing that government creates jobs. Twenty-four years of stunning ignorance regarding economic realities have led Oregon to this. Even in the best of times, Oregon’s chronic unemployment is one to two percentage points higher than the national average. 152,000 private sector jobs lost – but they are not to blame. There are 376,700 Oregonians eligible to work but without a job – but they are not to blame. Every segment of workforce has experienced significant job losses with the exception of Government – but they are not to blame.

The most remarkable thing about a democracy is that you get the kind of government you want – and most of the time you deserve. This is a critical election. If you return the Democrats to power, you will get more of the same. Your choice.