Oregon’s retail trade employment in August 2008 was below the year-ago level by 2,100 jobs, the first over-the-year loss since December 2003. The loss grew to 3,200 in September. With the onset of recession, consumers are cutting spending and retailers are cutting jobs. Notably, motor vehicle and parts dealers lost 2,600 jobs over the past year, mostly at automobile dealers. Overall, September U.S. retail sales were down 1% from the prior year and auto sales were down 20%. In recent years, Oregon’s average holiday seasonal increase in retail jobs was about 5% of total retail employment. In 2007, it was less than 4%, about 7,000 jobs. With a recession and reduced consumer spending, we can expect even fewer seasonal jobs this year, leaving some low-wage workers out in the cold. Generally, retail trade provides more than 20,000 low-wage jobs in Oregon. Many of these workers will be getting a raise, as the state’s minimum wage will rise from $7.95 per hour to $8.40 on January 1, 2009.
WorkSource Oregon Employment economist
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