Analysts: Oregon jobs numbers just plain flat

PORTLAND — Oregon's unemployment rate has gotten stuck in 2010 after dropping slightly last year, state officials said Tuesday.

The state Employment Department reported the rate for June was 10.5 percent, about where it's been since last fall.

The department's analysts said federal government hiring for the Census has been the only relief in a flat landscape for jobs. Those temporary jobs are ending, though.

Employment Department analysts saw flecks of good news.

Flat numbers are better than falling numbers, they said, and businesses have gotten back to typical seasonal hiring patterns, such as adding construction workers as the weather gets better.

"The stability at this point is not such a bad thing," said regional economist Amy Vander Vliet.

Meanwhile, thousands of jobless workers are running out of benefits, many after up to two years.

Those people are getting a tough message from the department's advisers: If you can't find a job in your field, find something, even at minimum wage.

"Basically, get a survival job ... and wait for the economy to come back again," said department spokesman Tom Fuller.

Oregon forecasters expect the next few months to be slow. The effects of federal stimulus spending and tax breaks will wear off, and manufacturers are nearing the end of a cycle of inventory buildups.

The state's unemployment rate peaked at 11.6 percent in spring 2009.

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