(Chart above: Unemployment rates April 2010-April 2015)
According to Damon M. Runberg, Central Oregon Regional Economist, Workforce and Economic Research for the Oregon Employment Department after eight years of recovery, Deschutes County is now in a period of economic expansion. Rapid economic growth over the past year elevated employment totals above the pre-recession peak. The pace of recovery is slower for the rural counties of Crook and Jefferson; however, both continue to see modest job growth and declines to their unemployment rates.
Crook County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued to drop in April, down to 8.3 percent. The rate is down significantly from last month, when it was 8.9 percent, and from this time last year, when it was 10.8 percent.
Crook County added 160 jobs in April, higher than the seasonal gain of 90 jobs typical for this time of year.
Total non-farm employment is up slightly from last year (+60 jobs). Strong gains in the professional and tourism sectors helped to overcome layoffs in wood product manufacturing.
Deschutes County (Bend-Redmond MSA): The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in April, the lowest rate in Deschutes County since November 2007. The county is transitioning to a job seeker market as the decreasing supply of labor is making it difficult for employers to fill vacancies. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is down 1.8 percentage points from last April.
Seasonal hiring was slower than typically expected in April. Deschutes County added 850 jobs when the addition of 980 is the norm.
Deschutes County’s job growth over the past year continues to outperform Oregon, expanding by 6.1 percent (+4,160 jobs). Job gains were spread across all private sector industries. Mining, logging, and construction led the way with 690 new jobs in the past year (+16 percent). Public-sector employment growth is being driven by a recovery in local education, which added 620 new jobs over the past year.
Jefferson County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in April, down from 7.3 percent in March. The rate was 9.6 percent this time last year.
Jefferson County added 170 jobs in April when the county typically expects to add around 120.
Employment totals are up significantly over the past year, adding 310 jobs (+5.3 percent). This job growth continues to be anchored by manufacturing (+120 jobs) and local government (+170 jobs). Transportation, warehousing, and utilities was the only industry to post notable losses in the past year (-20 jobs).
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the May county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, June 23 and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data on Tuesday, June 16.
For help finding jobs and training resources, visit one of the state’s WorkSource Oregon Centers or go to: www.WorkSourceOregon.org.
Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: 503-947-1794. For the deaf and hard of hearing population, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.