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Economy may be worse off; Oregon underemployment second highest in nation

Herald and News 11/8/09

  1 in 5 state residents are underemployed
     SALEM (AP) — Underemployment figures for Oregon suggest the state economy may be in even worse shape than indicated by a jobless rate of 11.5 percent.

   Recent figures show about one in five Oregonians in the labor force can’t find a job, are working fewer hours than they would like or simply have given up looking.

   A U.S. Bureau of Labor   Statistics report indicates Oregon has the secondhighest figure for underemployment in the country.

   The federal report, called “Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization for States,” has a category known as “U-6.”


   This measure counts people not included in the standard unemployment rate: “discouraged” workers who have stopped looking for employment, and “marginally attached” workers who have temporarily suspended their job searches.  

   Also included in the U-6 category are people who must settle for part-time employment.

   20.1 percent

   Oregon’s latest U-6 figure of 20.1 percent ranks the state just behind Michigan’s rate of 20.9 percent. The U-6 average for all 50 states is 15.2 percent.

   The Salem Statesman Journal also noted that about a third of the Oregonians who are no longer considered actively looking for work are from Marion and Polk counties, or the Salem area.

   Oregon Employment Department figures that   show the state labor force has declined by 6,769 workers in the past year.

   The Salem area has a disproportionate number of those former workers: 2,114 by the state’s most recent tally.

   In comparison, the more populous Portland metro area saw a smaller decline in its labor force. The Portland area, including Vancouver, Wash., had 1,177 fewer workers from September 2008.

   Meanwhile, the labor force in the Bend and Deschutes County area increased by 1,777 workers.

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