Unemployment rate creeps up in August

State rate flattens out at 9.6 percent after months of job losses

Oregon's unemployment rate is creeping up, hitting 9.6 percent in August.

State employment economist Nick Beleiciks said Tuesday the state's unemployment rate rose only slightly from July's 9.5 percent. That rate was essentially unchanged since June.

Since April, Oregon's unemployment rate has been between 9.3 percent and 9.5 percent, compared to 9 percent and 9.2 percent for the country, according to WorkSource Oregon, the state employment department.

'That's three months of small increases,' Beleiciks said. 'It shows that we haven't been adding jobs the way we should. It is essentially flat right now.'

According to the state, about 188,425 Oregonians are looking for work. The state's unemployment claims have dropped about 21 percent since a year ago, to 126,000 people.

Nearly 500 people each week are exhausting their 26-week state unemployment benefits.

As with the national economy, Beleiciks said Oregon's jobless rate had held steady or inched up in the past four months. With job growth stalled, could the state be teetering on a double-dip recession? Not yet, he said.

'Right now we're not to the double-dip point,' Beleiciks said. 'If we start gaining jobs we won't be in a double dip recession. If we lose jobs, we could be in for a double-dip recession.'

In August, Oregon's payroll employment rose by 800, following a revised loss of 3,300 jobs in July. Most of the major industries performed close to seasonal expectations. The two exceptions were construction, which cut 1,600 jobs, and professional and business services, which added 1,600.

The July numbers were revised downward substantially. Economists said last month that the state gained 300 jobs in July. The numbers were revised based on additional survey responses from businesses, including those who reported after the initial estimates were made. The latest estimates show that in July the state actually lost 3,300 jobs.

Most of the losses were in local and state governments. State government cut 1,800 jobs. Local governments cut 1,300 jobs.