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PORTLAND-Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 8% in April, up from 7.6% in March and at a 14-month high but still below its high for the recession: 8.4% in January 2002. Employment, at 1,557,700 by the end of April, is at its lowest level since October 1998.

By comparison, the U.S. jobless rate matched an eight-year high by rising two tenths of a percentage point in April to hit 6%. Washington State has not yet reported its employment data for April. In March, Washington State unemployment was 7%.

Oregon’s rise in unemployment in April was assisted by above-average rainfall, but more so by the fact that the refinancing boom–which has heretofore shored up the economy–appears to have ended. Adjusted for seasonal variations, construction businesses, mostly on the residential side, shed 1,300 workers in April, while financial services companies eliminated 1,100 jobs.

Employment in leisure and hospitality operations showed most weakness any of the state’s leading industries in April, with employment dropping 1.8% from March. The category, which includes hotels, movie theaters and restaurants, cut 2,800 workers from their payrolls.

Retail employment shed 900 jobs in April–100 from clothing stores and 800 from general merchandise stores–and has lost 1,100 jobs from a year ago.

According to Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis review and forecast released in March, the state’s economy experienced a jobless recovery through 2002. “As the U.S. economy builds strength in 2003, Oregon should follow the same path,” according to the report. “The jobless recovery will slowly become a job generating recovery with jobs regaining their pre-recession levels in early 2004.”

OEA forecasts employment to grow 1% in 2003 and 2.4% in 2004.

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