Oregon employers hired big-time this fall; October figures show 9,900 new jobs

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SALEM, Oregon — Oregon employers went on a hiring spree this fall, adding nearly 10,000 jobs in October and producing the largest one-month gain in nearly two decades, the state Employment Department said Tuesday.

The October hiring was particularly strong in three sectors: manufacturing, health care, and professional and business services.

Despite the job gains, the unemployment rate didn't budge from 7 percent, where it's been for months. As hiring has gotten stronger, people who hadn't been looking for work have flooded back into the job market.

In all, a survey of employers showed 9,900 new jobs were recorded in October — a seasonally adjusted figure. Oregon employers haven't created that many jobs in a single month since August 1995, when more than 10,400 jobs were added.

Food manufacturers — which includes businesses like microbreweries and bakeries — did not eliminate as many jobs as they usually do during October, said David Cooke, an economist at the Employment Department. Temporary staffing agencies showed stronger-than-usual hiring.

Over the past 12 months, Oregon's nonfarm employment has grown 2.9 percent.

"That's a relatively strong rate of growth, and it's a little bit faster than what we've seen in the last few years," Cooke said. "That indicates the economy is expanding at an accelerating rate."

The broad sector of professional and business services has shown especially strong growth, up 6 percent over last year. The category includes service firms such as legal, engineering and computer companies, as well as employment services and business support.

Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber welcomed the news but said in a statement that the state needs to ensure the job gains aren't concentrated in limited areas.

"We must ensure that this growth occurs in all corners of our state and reaches into communities that are still struggling to recover from the recession."

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