Oregon’s unemployment rate at record low

By Taxpayer Association of Oregon Foundation

Oregon has matched its lowest unemployment rate ever this July – 3.4%.  The last time unemployment rates were this low was at the end of 2019 when the economy was red hot, just before COVID-19 crippled the economy. State officials at the Oregon Employment Department (OED) released data this week showing steady improvement in the state’s job market.

Several sectors are showing strong job gains including health care, social assistance, leisure & hospitality, and government. They are responsible for most of Oregon’s job growth.  Healthcare jobs increased the most with 3,400 new positions.

The leisure and hospitality sector is making a comeback from COVID lockdowns, but hasn’t fully recovered from the forced closures that Governor Kate Brown imposed across the state.  From just February to April of 2020 Oregon hotels and restaurants lost 52% of their payroll according to the OED.

One reason unemployment levels are so low is the cost of living has dramatically gone up, so people need to work one or more jobs to pay for essentials. The current mortgage interest rate to buy a home is a whopping 7.53% up from 2.72% in November of 2020. Click here to see a historical rate chart.

According to the National Consumer Price Index Americans are spending more on these key expenses than they were a year ago:

Rent of primary residence: +8.1%
Owners’ equivalent rent of residences: +7.7%
Food: +4.9%
Restaurant Meals: +7%
Electricity: +3%
Apparel: +3.2%
New cars: +3.5%
Motor Vehicle Insurance: +17.8%
Transportation: +9%