New Employment Numbers Are Encouraging

Right From the Start

February’s job report was welcome news for Oregonians. It showed an increase of 9,800 jobs in Oregon – all but 100 of them in the private sector. But before you celebrate, let’s put the numbers in perspective.

Shortly after the commencement of Gov. Kulongoski’s second term, private sector employment peaked in March of 2007 at 1,445,800. As he left office in December of 2010 the number had dropped to 1,305,300 – a loss of 140,500 private sector jobs. The number of jobs lost stood as 155,500 at one point. Most of the job losses occurred in the critical high paying sectors: Construction – 40,300 (38.2%) lost; Manufacturing – 47,100 (22.8%) lost; Trade, Transportation and Utilities – 15, 900 (4.6%) lost; and Finance – 15,000 (13.9%) lost.

And there is more. According to the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oregon’s available workforce grew from 1,935,823 in February of 2008 to 1,987,561 in November of 2010. Based strictly on average, that would mean there are 1,570 additional workers entering the job market each month. As shown below, the number will steadily increase over time.

And there is even more. The Portland business community at its annual business summit urged newly elected governor John Kitzhaber to adopt their “aggressive plan” to add 25,000 jobs per year for the next ten years or slightly over 2000 jobs per month. However, the statistics from October of 2009 to October of 2010, showed that there were 32,000 new workers entered the job market – an average of about 2,700 workers per month. Even that aggressive plan falls short of absorbing the new job entrants let alone recovering any of the jobs lost during the Kulongoski administration.

And so how is Gov. Kitzhaber doing on the job recovery front? According to the OLMIS report from his Department of Employment, Oregon added 6,700 jobs in January of 2011 and 9,800 jobs in February. That would be a net gain of 11,500 jobs (two months total less the 5,000 new entrants over two months) over the first two months. That seems to be a decent start.

Gov. Kulongoski’s denied any responsibility for the massive job loss during his administration and said there is nothing he could do to encourage job growth in Oregon. Let’s see if Gov. Kitzhaber takes credit for job growth during his administration.

One of them would be lying.