Monday, April 13, 2009

Oregon unemployment rate hits record high

From the Oregonian:

Oregon's 12.1 percent unemployment announced today will go yet higher, the state's chief economist predicts, probably leading the nation.
A major culprit, Tom Potiowsky says, is rapid growth in Oregon's labor force, which is expanding as non-working spouses and others begin seeking jobs.
The Oregon Employment Department says the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped 1.4 percentage points to reach 12.1 percent in March,
up from February's level of 10.7 percent, which officials revised downward from the 10.8 percent originally reported.

"I'm guessing when the dust settles," Potiowsky says, "we'll be the highest in the nation."
Oregon's March jobless rate ties the record set at the peak of the 1980s recession, which was the worst since officials began tracking numbers in 1947. Oregon, which had the nation's third-highest jobless rate in February, has now exceeded Michigan's
highest-in-the-nation level of 12 percent for that month.

"The unemployment rate has never jumped that rapidly during a five-month period," said David Cooke, a state labor economist.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski called the March statistics "staggering." Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said the state has "runaway unemployment." He called on Oregonians to come together and help family, friends and neighbors in need.

So the government is calling for the people to do something and the people are calling for the government to do something. The state is doing something...

From the Statesmanjournal:
Oregon's version of a stimulus package has gotten off to a sluggish start, but legislators and state officials say they still expect to have most of the projects under way before the end of May.
A report out Friday from the Department of Administrative Services shows that 16 new jobs have been created and 73 of a projected 499 projects are under way.
In January, lawmakers aimed to create 3,000 jobs by pushing construction work across the state.
They picked jobs that could be started quickly, borrowed $175 million, said the benefits of short-term employment would outweigh the cost of long-term debt, and promised quick work.

The states goal is to create 3,000 new jobs but an additional 14,000 lost their job last month.

One footnote from the employment department:
This tied Oregon’s unemployment rate in November 1982, the highpoint of the early 1980s recession. While historical records prior to 1976 are not exactly comparable, it appears clear that the 12.1 percent level is Oregon’s highest since 1947, when the Employment Department first started publishing unemployment rates.