Oregon’s jobless rate surged to 9.9% in January, the highest in a quarter century, as the state’s economy lost jobs in almost every major sector.
The Oregon Employment Department said the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by 4.6 percentage points in the past 12 months. The rate jumped almost a full percentage point from 9% in December, when the state had the sixth-highest jobless rate in the nation. Comparisons for the January data are not yet possible because some states have yet to report results.
Bond-financed infrastructure projects were rushed through the Oregon Legislature in recent months to provide economic stimulus, but the economy’s decline is eroding the state’s capacity to issue bonds to offset the decline. Treasurer Ben Westlund earlier last month said that slower revenue growth cut general-fund bonding capacity for the upcoming biennium to $936 million from $1.1 billion.
Moody’s Investors Service last week reaffirmed the state’s Aa2 general obligation bond rating. While the state’s economy is taking a harder hit than most in the current economic downturn, it came into the recession with about $735 million in its rainy-day fund and education reserve fund, helping offset its volatile revenues for now.
Oregon GOs are rated AA by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.