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Oregon adds 4,600 jobs in July, construction a strength; jobless rate at 5.9 percent

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PORTLAND, Oregon — Oregon posted another month of strong job growth, and the brisk hiring pace might be giving workers the confidence to quit their jobs in search of a better one.

The state added 4,600 jobs last month, the Oregon Employment Department said Tuesday. It's a typical gain during a 12-month span that has seen payroll employment increase by about 56,000 jobs.

"Some of the growth is related to in-migration," said David Cooke, a state economist. "More people are moving to Oregon than are moving out of Oregon, and many people are moving from California as shown by the data for drivers' licenses surrendered."

Despite the strong jobs report, the unemployment rate jumped to 5.9 percent in July from 5.5 percent in June. The rate was 7 percent in July 2014.

Rather than layoffs, state employment economist Nick Beleiciks attributed much of the increase to people entering the labor market or voluntarily leaving their jobs. "Oregon's economy is adding jobs so fast right now that many of them will find work quickly," he said.

Job growth for July was strong in many industries, particularly construction, retail trade and professional and business services. The biggest laggard was government — down even more than expected at the end of the school year.

An enduring story since the end of the recession is that jobs have returned but pay raises have not. State figures, however, show wage inflation accelerating a bit. The average hourly wage for private sector payroll employees was $23.31 in July, up 2.4 percent from $22.77 a year earlier. In recent years, the norm for Oregon workers has been about 2 percent.


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