Oregon's seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1,800 in July. Seasonally adjusted payroll employment grew for five consecutive months through July. This was the first five-month streak since March 2007, which was the last month of a 38-consecutive-month expansion. Over the past five months, a total of 14,600 jobs were added.
Three of the major industries posted seasonally adjusted job gains of more than 1,000: government (+1,700 jobs), professional and business services (+1,300), and construction (+1,200). These gains were largely offset by declines in other services (-1,400), educational and health services (-1,200), and manufacturing (-1,000).
Government experienced a rare month of seasonally adjusted job gains in July. In both state government and federal government, the employment change in July was a little above normal, following below-normal patterns of similar magnitude in June. Despite the slight gain in July, federal government was down 1,100 from July 2011. Similarly, local government was down 2,100 since July 2011, while state government was flat over the year.
Professional and business services produced another strong gain in July, adding 2,300 jobs, which was more than double its normal July increase. Professional and technical services shot up once again, continuing its three-year expansion path. It employed 77,000 in July, which was up 3,700 from July 2011. Its component industry, computer systems design and related services, added 600 jobs during the past 12 months.
Construction employment rose slightly more than normal in July as it added 3,700 jobs when a seasonal gain of 2,500 is the norm. Throughout the year, construction was fairly close to its seasonal pattern, thus indicating neither rapid expansion nor substantial decline. Since July 2011, construction is up 1,200 jobs or 1.7 percent.
Modest increases in residential building permits are a precursor to employment gains in construction. As reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, Oregon construction permit activity through June continued to rise above year-ago levels. The statewide 12-month moving average for authorized new privately owned housing units was 764 in June, up from 620 in June of last year. Despite the recent pickup in permit activity, it is well below the boom years of 2004 through 2007 when monthly permits averaged nearly 2,300.
After five years of devastating employment losses, the financial activities industry regained some ground in employment over the past few months. In July, this major industry added 1,000 jobs when a gain of only 400 is the normal seasonal pattern for July. Some leasing companies reported job gains. Also, mortgage refinance activity has been very strong nationally, and no doubt in Oregon as well, as mortgage interest rates reached the lowest levels in more than 40 years in recent months. This high demand for refinancing has boosted demand for mortgage brokers and agents.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, financial activities employment rose to 93,500 in July, an increase of 1,800 from April. In contrast, the industry peaked in early 2007 during the housing bubble, at over 108,000 jobs.
Private-sector educational and health services cut 4,100 jobs in July, a bigger drop than the normal seasonal decline of 2,600. Private education dropped 2,400 in July, slightly more than the normal decline for the month. Many of these jobs are in private colleges. Despite the recent employment changes, private education is back on track with its long-term trend of rapid job gains. The industry is up 800 jobs or 2.9 percent since July 2011. Over the past 10 years, private education has grown by 9,300 jobs, equaling an annual average rate of 4.0 percent.
The business survey is indicating a halt of growth in health care and social assistance employment. Seasonally adjusted employment for this sector, at 202,700 in July, was at the exact same figure as in August 2011. The over-the-year estimates for social assistance are the primary reason for the evident slowdown, as its employment dropped by 1,800 over the past 12 months.
Manufacturing added only 1,900 jobs in July when its typical seasonal gain for the month is 2,900. Durable goods slipped by 200, while nondurable goods added 2,100 as it neared the peak of its summer food processing season. Computer and electronic product manufacturing added 300 jobs in July. It employed 37,600, which was well above its post-recession low of 34,700 in May 2010.