State jobless rate rises to 12.2 percent in August

SALEM — Oregon's unemployment rate ticked upward to 12.2 percent in August, with state economists sticking by their prediction of a slow, jobless recovery likely to begin this fall.

The seasonally adjusted rate has been hovering around 12 percent for the past six months. The August rate was up over July's 11.8 percent level — among the highest unemployment rates in the country. The U.S. employment rate rose from 9.4 percent in July to 9.7 percent in August.

In its monthly jobs report, the Oregon Employment Department said the state's economy shed 6,600 jobs last month as the state continued to struggle with the deepest recession in decades.

In all, about 235,745 Oregonians were on the jobless rolls in August, compared with 126,604 a year ago at this time.

David Cooke, an economist with the employment agency, said even though state and federal economists are seeing the beginnings of economic recovery, joblessness will remain high for some time.

"There will be a continued rise in the state and U.S. unemployment rate for the next few months," Cooke said. "We are forecasting slow growth of payroll employment beginning in the second quarter of 2010."

The state employment agency's latest report said last month's seasonally adjusted job losses came in four major industries: leisure and hospitality; local government employment; professional and business services; and educational and health services. None of the other major industries posted significant changes, the agency said.

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