Now hiring: Social and employment services

Now hiring: Social and employment services
File photo

PORTLAND, Ore. – All but one of the major industries in the Portland metropolitan area, stretching from Yamhill County in Oregon to Skamania County in Washington, added jobs in April.

The area now supports 1.05 million civilian workers. Workers are considered to be those 16 years and older devoting hours to government work, farming, working for private households, non-profit organizations, self-employment or a family business. 

Still, 122,841 people were considered unemployed in April in what's defined by the Employment Department as the "Portland, Hillsboro and Vancouver area." The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metropolitan area includes Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill counties in Oregon, and Clark and Skamania counties in Washington state.

Which industries grew in April?
Hiring for nearly all industries grew from March to April. The new jobs in these sectors lowered the Portland area's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 10.4 percent in April – down from 10.7 percent in March.

Construction added 400 jobs, following a gain of 500 in March, according to Oregon Employment Department data. The number of single-family housing permits issued in the first quarter of this year nearly doubled compared to the first quarter of last year.

Manufacturing edged up 100 jobs. High-tech added 100 – the second month of gains in nearly two years. Metals added 200 jobs while machinery and nondurables lost a combined 200. Over the year, factory employment is down 5,000 jobs, or 4.6 percent. Since its peak of April 2006, it’s down 21,400 jobs or 17.1 percent.

Professional and business services gained 800 jobs from March to April. Employment in architecture and engineering firms continued to slide, down 100 jobs over the month and 2,600 since the recession began. Seasonal demand for landscaping and yard maintenance likely boosted employment in building and dwelling services, with 400 new hires. The temp-help component added 700 jobs over the month and 1,900 jobs since January.

Leisure and hospitality gained 1,100 jobs, in line with seasonal expectations.

However, employment is still down in most areas year-over-year: from April 2009 to April 2010. What follows are the industries where employment has grown over the past year.

In health care and social assistance sector, there are 500 more jobs in nursing and residential care centers than a year ago. There also are 300 more jobs in social assistance.

Administrative jobs also grew. Administrative and support-service jobs were up by 500 since April 2009. The Portland area also added 2,000 employment-service jobs.

In the government sector, Oregon's state government added 300 jobs since April 2009, along with 100 jobs for state schools and community colleges. Oregon's Employment Department reports that census workers also boosted employment in the government sector.  Three hundred jobs were added in local governments, along with 1,100 jobs for local education.

Update: On Tuesday, May 25, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski made the decision to cut state government jobs, as part of across-the-board cuts to follow a Tuesday morning Economic and Revenue Forecast that projected a $526.6-million shortfall by 2011.

Finally, food manufacturing grew by 100 jobs over last April. For example, Del Monte Fresh Produce - which has a Portland plant, at 9243 N. Rivergate Blvd. - had a year-over-year improvement in net sales, gross profit and net income. That's even after an October 2009 class-action minimum-wage jury verdict, requiring back pay on behalf of 1,200 of its food plant workers.

"The first quarter of 2010 was a good quarter for Fresh Del Monte Produce," said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, its chairman and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement. "While the global economy, and particularly Europe, remains a concern, we believe the overall performance of our globally sourced fresh and prepared products ... provides us the flexibility to withstand varying market conditions."

Side notes

As an aside, the Oregon county with the worst unemployment rate in the state is Crook County, with a seasonally adjusted rate of 16.6 percent. The area is in the geographic center of the state. There are 9,246 workers living in the county, of which 1,592 are unemployed.

The most-employed county in the state is Gilliam County, with a 7.1 percent unemployment rate. Gilliam County has only 1,197 working residents over the age of 16 - making it the third smallest county in Oregon; 1,111 of its residents are employed.