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Polk County Unemployment Rate Sits At About 3.8 Percent

SALEM — In June, Oregon's nonfarm payroll employment grew by 8,500 jobs, following a gain of 2,600 in May, according to a press release from the Oregon Employment Department.

The June increase was the largest gain since February 2016, when 9,600 jobs were added. Gains were widespread among the major industries, with 11 of the 14 industries adding jobs.

The economy in Polk and Marion counties is following the same track, said A.J. Foscoli, Dallas’ economic development director, in a recent report to the Dallas City Council.

He said Polk County’s unemployment rate is at about 3.8 percent.

“Remember that 5 percent is what economists consider full employment,” Foscoli said. “We are well below what economists feel comfortable with as far as maintaining a full workforce.

Foscoli added that businesses are to the point that they are hiring or considering hiring people who may not be the best suited.

“It means that businesses are keeping employees,” he said. “I’ve heard that businesses are rehiring employees that maybe they let go.”

The state’s leisure and hospitality industry added the most, increasing by 2,100 jobs. In addition, strong hiring occurred in construction (+1,600 jobs) and manufacturing (+1,400). Financial activities was the only major industry to cut substantially, as it shed 800 jobs.

Over the past 12 months, Oregon’s payroll employment rose 47,300, or 2.6 percent. This rapid pace was an acceleration from earlier in the year when over-the-year growth was hovering around 2.0 percent.

Oregon’s unemployment rate was little changed at 3.7 percent in June. The rate remained near its all-time low of 3.6 percent reached in May. Oregon's rate was significantly below its year-ago rate of 5.1 percent in June 2016 and well below the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.4 percent in June 2017.

Other signs of a tight labor market in Oregon include fewer long-term unemployed and falling measures of labor underutilization.

The number of Oregonians who have been unemployed for more than six months dropped to 10,700 in June, the lowest on record dating back to 2002. In contrast, the long term unemployed reached a peak of more than 100,000 in 2010, during the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, U-6 — the broadest measure of labor underutilization, which includes the unemployed, those who have stopped looking for work within the last year but still want a job, and those who are working part-time but would prefer to work full-time — dropped to 7.4 percent in June.

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