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News Release Information

Friday, September 18, 2015

Contacts Technical information: Media contact:
  • (415) 625-2270

Unemployment in the Portland Area by County, July 2015

All Counties Posted Lower Unemployment Rates than the Previous Two Years

In July, Washington County had the lowest unemployment rate, 5.4 percent, in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Richard J. Holden, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that Multnomah County had a jobless rate equal to the national average of 5.6 percent. The remaining five counties in the metropolitan area had unemployment rates ranging from 5.8 percent in Clackamas County to 7.8 percent in Columbia County. (See chart 1. The Technical Note at the end of this release contains the metropolitan area definition. All data in this release are not seasonally adjusted; accordingly, over-the-year analysis is used throughout.)


In July 2015, all seven counties had over-the-year unemployment rate declines, with the declines ranging from 0.8 percentage point in Yamhill County to 0.4 point in Clark County. Nationally, the unemployment rate fell 0.9 percentage point from July a year ago. (See table A).

Table A. Unemployment rates for the United States and counties in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. Metropolitan Statistical Area, July 2015, not seasonally adjusted
AreaUnemployment rateChange from
July 2013July 2014July 2015July 2013 to July 2015(1)July 2014 to July 2015(1)

United States


Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. MSA


Clackamas County


Columbia County


Multnomah County


Washington County


Yamhill County


Clark County


Skamania County


(1) Data for the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. Metropolitan Statistical Area and its components are preliminary for the most recent month.

All seven Portland area counties also experienced unemployment rate decreases over the two-year period from July 2013 to July 2015. Skamania County (-1.9 percentage points) and Clark County (-1.8 points) had the largest declines. The national unemployment rate decreased 2.1 percentage points from July 2013 to July 2015. Washington County has had the lowest unemployment rate, and Columbia County the highest, in July in each of the last three years.

Technical Note

This release presents unemployment rate data for states and counties from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program, a federal-state cooperative endeavor.

Definitions. The labor force and unemployment data are based on the same concepts and definitions as those used for the official national estimates obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a sample survey of households that is conducted for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by the U.S. Census Bureau. The LAUS program measures employment and unemployment on a place-of-residence basis.  The universe for each is the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years of age and over.  Employed persons are those who did any work at all for pay or profit in the reference week (the week including the 12th of the month) or worked 15 hours or more without pay in a family business or farm, plus those not working who had a job from which they were temporarily absent, whether or not paid, for such reasons as labor-management dispute, illness, or vacation. Unemployed persons are those who were not employed during the reference week (based on the definition above), had actively looked for a job sometime in the 4-week period ending with the reference week, and were currently available for work; persons on layoff expecting recall need not be looking for work to be counted as unemployed.  The labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed persons. The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percent of the labor force.

Method of estimation. The LAUS program is a hierarchy of non-survey methodologies for indirectly estimating employment and unemployment in states and local areas. Statewide data are produced through a modeling technique that uses estimates of payroll jobs from the Current Employment Statistics survey and unemployment insurance claims counts from the state workforce agencies to mitigate volatility in the direct CPS tabulations of employment and unemployment, respectively. Data for labor market areas, such as metropolitan areas and metropolitan divisions, are produced through a building block approach and adjusted proportionally to state model-based totals. Data for counties within labor market areas are produced through a disaggregation technique. A detailed description of the LAUS estimation procedures is available in chapter 4 of the BLS Handbook of Methods at

Annual revisions. Labor force and unemployment data for prior years reflect adjustments made at the end of each year, usually implemented with January estimates. The adjusted estimates reflect updated population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, any revisions in the other data sources, and model reestimation. All substate estimates are reestimated and adjusted to add to the revised model-based estimates.

Area definition. The substate area data published in this release reflect the standards and definitions established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, dated February 28, 2013. A detailed list of the geographic definitions is available at

The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash., Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill Counties in Oregon; and Clark and Skamania Counties in Washington.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone:  (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 1-800-877-8339.


Last Modified Date: Friday, September 18, 2015