Salem-area unemployment rate stays flat in February

The Salem area’s unemployment rate stayed put at 4.6% in February for the first time in seven months, according to newly released state data.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, which doesn’t include impacts from seasonal patterns, has steadily increased since July 2022, when the rate was 3.5%.

The rate was 4.5% in December 2022, according to Oregon Employment Department data, which includes all of Marion and Polk counties.

Salem’s unemployment rate remains low by historical standards. Patrick O’Connor, the department’s regional economist, told Salem Reporter in January that a sustained unemployment rate below 4.5% is historically rare for Salem.

(Oregon Employment Department data)

The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed people in the Salem area was around 9,704 in February, one fewer than in January and an increase of 1,294 compared to February 2022.

The number of unemployed people, seasonally adjusted, had been steadily increasing from around 7,400 in June 2022, state data showed.

Without seasonal adjustment, the unemployment rate dropped from 4.9% in January to 4.7% in February.

The number of unemployed people – not seasonally adjusted – fell from around 10,404 in January to 9,985 in February, according to state data.

Statewide, Oregon lost 100 nonfarm jobs in February. Nondurable goods manufacturing, which includes food manufacturing, saw more job cuts than normal in January and February.

Construction employment has added 7,500 jobs over the past year and “rose sharply” in February, according to a news release.

Statewide government employment grew to 302,100 jobs in February, rising above its pre-pandemic peak.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.