Oregon's unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent in November, its lowest level in three years as manufacturing staffing has helped buoy the local economy over the past year.
After experiencing significant losses for a number of years, manufacturing employment in the state has increased slightly over the past year, according to the 2012 Oregon Manufacturers Directory, which is published by Manufacturers' News, Inc.
Tom Dublin, president of the publishing company, said in a release there are a number of factors that enabled Oregon to add more than 900 manufacturing positions from October 2010 to the same month this year.
"The recovery is gaining momentum in Oregon and across the U.S.," Dubin noted. "The state's low business costs, abundant natural resources, and solid infrastructure have been a draw for a variety of enterprises."
Manufacturers' News reported solar and electronics manufacturing have been two drivers of the recent industry uptick, with a number of companies having announced expansions in Portland and other regions of the state over the past year.
Electronics manufacturing employment reached 30,062 jobs in October, an increase of 1.6 percent over the year, while food product manufacturing jumped 3.6 percent during the 12-month period.
Regionally, Northwest Oregon continues to boast the most expansive manufacturing staffing within the state, employing 159,291 individuals in these positions, according to the publisher. Portland, the state's most highly populated city, saw its manufacturing staffing grow by 2.5 percent from October 2010 to this year.
The state unemployment rate - which has fallen slowly since peaking at 11.6 percent in May and June 2009 - has undoubtedly benefited from the gains seen in the manufacturing sector. Still, November was proof that the industry is still extremely volatile, as Oregon lost 2,600 positions last month, according to the Statesman Journal.
David Cooke, a state economist, told the news source that the retail industry helped lead the way in November, reaching its highest employment level since the end of 2008.
Oregon's trade, transportation and utilities sector also grew last month, adding approximately 6,900 jobs when the normal seasonal pattern would have called for 5,000 new positions, reported the Statesman Journal.