Oregon's unemployment rate drops to a record low 4.5 percent - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon's unemployment rate drops to a record low 4.5 percent

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Oregon's unemployment rate in March dropped to the lowest level since comparable records were first kept in 1976.

The state's unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in March, down from 4.8 percent in February and 5.7 percent in March 2015.

Oregon's unemployment rate was also half a percentage point below the U.S. average for the first time since November 1995.

The Oregon Employment Department released the latest statistics Tuesday.

The total number of Oregonians employed in March reached 1.94 million, according to the Employment Department, up from 1.84 million in March 2015.

Economists described Oregon's labor market as stronger than it's been in decades.

"Businesses are raising wages to attract the help they need, and it's working because people are flocking to Oregon's labor force," said state employment economist Nick Beleiciks.

Oregon's average hourly wage for private sector payroll employees was $24.45 in March, up 10 cents from February and an increase of $1.07 from March 2015.

Three major industries added more than 1,000 jobs in March, with health care and social assistance leading the way with 1,400 new jobs, followed by wholesale trade and professional and business services.

The largest job cuts came in private educational services, down 1,200 jobs, followed by construction at 900 fewer jobs and manufacturing with 700 fewer jobs.

For more, go to oregon.gov/employ.

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