Central Oregon Employment Improves in May 2013

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Once again, seasonally adjusted unemployment rates dropped across the tri-county area. Jefferson County saw the largest drop in May, lowering to 10.7 percent from the adjusted April rate of 11.2 percent. Although Crook County maintains one of the highest levels of unemployment in the state, the county continued to show progress with the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropping three-tenths of a percent in May (12.5 percent). Deschutes County’s rate was essentially unchanged in May down to 10.0 percent from 10.1 percent in April. The statewide unemployment rate (7.8 percent) is at its lowest level since October of 2008 when it was 7.7 percent. However, the state and the national unemployment rates (7.6 percent) experienced little change from April.

Crook County: In May, Crook County continued to experience a significant drop in its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate. The May rate was 12.5 percent compared to the revised rate for April of 12.8 percent. The unemployment rate in May 2012 was 14.3 percent. Although Crook County maintains the second highest unemployment rate in Oregon, over-the-year the county experienced the second largest reduction (-1.8 percent) in its rate.

The county added 140 jobs in May, which is greater than the 130 jobs that would typically be expected this time of year.

Over-the-month growth was equally split between private and government employment with each gaining 70 jobs. Manufacturing and leisure and hospitality saw the largest private-sector gains (+20) with no industry posting job losses from April. Local government experienced the strongest growth in the county adding 40 jobs.

Compared to this time last year total nonfarm employment is up by 180 jobs with over 80 percent of that growth coming from the private-sector. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities added the most jobs over the year (+60) followed by manufacturing (+50) and educational and health services (+30). Information gained 20 jobs, but it experienced the largest year-over-year percent change expanding employment by 40 percent. Wholesale trade (-40) and retail trade (-10) were the only private-sector industries to experience year-over-year job losses, while federal (-20) and state (-10) government employment continued to constrict.

Deschutes County (Bend MSA): The May seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 10.0 percent was essentially unchanged from the revised April rate of 10.1 percent. From May 2012 to May 2013 the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped more than a full percentage point, down from 11.6 percent.

Preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the Bend metropolitan area show an increase of 720 jobs in May, which is less than the expected seasonal gain of 1,210. BLS analysts estimate that private-sector employment increased by 500 jobs in May, while government added 220 jobs. Many of the gains continue to be concentrated in accommodation and food services (+290), as well as, professional and business services (+190).

Estimates show that Deschutes County continues its streak of impressive year-over-year job gains adding 2,080 jobs between May 2012 and May 2013. 1,700 of those jobs are in the private-sector. Leisure and hospitality (+600); educational and health services (+590); and mining, logging, and construction (+310) experienced the strongest growth from last May. Financial activities continues to shed jobs over-the-year (-80), while retail trade posted over-the-year losses for the first time this year (-110).

These preliminary estimates are subject to revision as more information becomes available from employers.

For many years, monthly employment estimates for Oregon and its metropolitan areas were developed by Oregon Employment Department economists. These economists were also responsible for revising the initial sample-based estimates annually, based on more complete information from Oregon businesses. This revisions process is known as benchmarking.

In April 2011, responsibility for the monthly employment estimates for Oregon and its metropolitan areas shifted to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The estimates developed by BLS are more heavily dependent on the sample of businesses and less reliant on knowledge of local economic events. They are also likely to demonstrate increased month-to-month variability.

BLS staff has also taken over responsibility for the annual benchmarking process. The results of this process are reflected in the revised data for 2010 and 2011 that were released in February and April 2012.

Comments or questions should be directed to Graham Slater, Administrator of the Oregon Employment Department’s Workforce and Economic Research Division, at (503) 947-1212.

Jefferson County: The May seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Jefferson County was 10.7 percent. The County experienced the largest drop in seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Oregon, dropping a half a percent from April. Over-the-year, Jefferson County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate lowered from the May 2012 rate of 12.2 percent.

Jefferson County experienced better than expected gains in total nonfarm employment in May. The county added 190 jobs, when a gain of 110 jobs would typically be expected. Gains were nearly split between the private-sector (+100) and government (+90) with the majority of those gains in government coming from Indian tribal (+60). Leisure and hospitality saw the largest private–sector over-the-month increase (+50) with continued strong hiring in manufacturing (+30).

Between May 2012 and May 2013 Jefferson County gained 70 jobs. The majority of those gains came from the private-sector (+60). The largest over-the-year job gains were in manufacturing (+80); professional and business services (+30); and educational and health services (+20).

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