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Oregon Employers Add 7,600 Jobs In April

State of Oregon Employment Department

Employers in Oregon added 7,600 jobs in April.

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.2 percent last month, down from 5.4 percent in March, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

The state’s employment rate is back to pre-recession levels, said David Cooke, an economist with the agency.

“The rate has dropped substantially over the last several years and now we’re very close to the U.S. rate,” he said.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in April.

“Both the payroll employment numbers being strong and the unemployment rate being low are indicating a strong Oregon economy expanding fairly rapidly,” Cooke said. “We’ve seen several of the industries expanding by close to 5 percent over the last 12 months.”

Four major industries have fueled the surge in jobs.

Since April 2014, health care and social assistance has added 11,200 jobs.

Professional and businesses services added 9,700 jobs during the last year. Computer systems design, company management, administration and waste services led that sector of the state’s job market.

Also, the state’s manufacturing sector added more than 9,800 jobs since April 2014. Food, semiconductor, electronic component and transportation equipment led manufacturing.

More demand at restaurants led to a boost in jobs for the leisure and hospitality industry.

The number of people facing long-term unemployment is still high both in Oregon as well as nationally, Cooke said. But, he added, it’s getting better.

“We're seeing very low numbers of people who are unemployed for very short periods of time, and that’s indicating a tight labor market for people that if they lose a job then they’re able to bounce back very quickly and get a new job,” he said.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Conrad Wilson is a reporter and producer covering criminal justice and legal affairs for OPB.