Oregon – The job market in the United States, which enjoyed record-low unemployment rates in 2022 and 2023, has begun to show signs of decline. According to recent data, there has been a noticeable increase in unemployment claims across the nation, with Oregon emerging as one of the states most affected by this trend.
The Shift in Employment Trends
The beginning of the year marked a significant change for the U.S. labor market, as unemployment claims saw an increase of 4.2% between January 8 and January 22. This shift indicates a cooling job market, particularly pronounced in Oregon. The state experienced the second-highest increase in unemployment claims among all U.S. states, according to WalletHub’s findings. Moreover, Oregon distinguished itself by having the most unemployment claims filed per 100,000 people in the labor force during this period, signaling a potential concern for the state’s economy and its workforce.
Despite the uptick in unemployment claims, Oregon State Economist Joshua Lehner provided a perspective that paints a less alarming picture of the situation. Lehner observed that the pattern of initial claims in Oregon at the start of the year mirrors trends seen in recent years. He pointed out, “The first few weeks of initial claims in Oregon to start the year look really similar to recent years.” Lehner attributes the current rise in claims to the extraordinary job gains witnessed as the economy reopened post-pandemic and firms increased staffing levels. He also noted that the historic lows in unemployment claims in 2022 were partly due to some workers exhausting their benefits during the pandemic, which reduced the pool of potential unemployment insurance claims.
Oregon was second only to New York in the magnitude of the rise in unemployment claims. Despite this, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Civilian unemployment rate suggests that unemployment rates in the U.S. remain near all-time lows. Lehner believes that the recent fluctuations are indicative of the economy’s “rebalancing” following the disruptions caused by the pandemic. He remains optimistic, stating, “The good news for the labor market is it has rebalanced. Layoffs are up a bit, but not spiraling upward, at least at the moment.”