Oregon’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly from November to December, and it remains higher than the rest of the country. 

The state unemployment rate increase from 4.1% in October to 4.4% in November came even though Oregon added 8,500 jobs, roughly one-fifth of them in local government. The national unemployment rate remained steady at 3.7% during the same period. 

Gail Krumenauer, a state employment economist, said the rising unemployment rate isn’t yet an indication of the recession state economic analysts predicted will hit within the next year. Sustained or very severe job losses are a hallmark of an economic recession, Krumenauer said. 

“We’re seeing a lot of things that I’m following that aren’t consistent with a recession as of November,” she said. 

Nearly two-thirds of the roughly 94,000 Oregonians counted as unemployed in November were people searching for their first jobs or people who had quit their last jobs, Krumenauer said. The remaining third lost their jobs in layoffs. 

She attributed the raise in unemployment partially to a shift in people who identified as self-employed. The percentage of workers who identified as self-employed rose to a peak of 8% of the roughly 2.2 million people in Oregon’s labor force a few months ago and has fallen since. 

Krumenauer said Oregon’s higher unemployment rate relative to the national average could also be a factor of the state’s large population of remote workers. A greater share of Oregonians – 7.3% – were working from home than the national average of 5.7% in 2019, and by 2021 more than 22% of Oregonians worked remotely. 

Surveys of workers and bosses found that remote workers are at higher risk of layoffs than their in-office counterparts. 

“Oregon is one of the top states in terms of working from home and remote work,” Krumenauer said. 

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: info@oregoncapitalchronicle.com. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.