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Central Oregon job picture improving as 2015 began


Central Oregon began the new year with a brighter jobs picture, though employment grew more quickly in Deschutes County than in Crook and Jefferson counties, the state Employment Department reported Tuesday.

Unemployment rates also declined in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties, Regional Economist Damon Runberg said.

Crook County: Despite recent layoffs in Crook County, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 10.1 percent in January from 10.5 percent in December. The rate is down from the year-ago rate (11%), however, these improvements are not statistically significant, Runberg said.

Total nonfarm employment fell by 90 jobs in January. These losses were slightly more than the seasonal decline of 80 jobs typically seen this time of year. Monthly losses continue to be concentrated in the wood product manufacturing sector, which shed 40 jobs from December.

Annual revisions revealed that employment growth in Crook County was stronger than initially estimated.

Total nonfarm employment was revised up by 120 jobs in December 2014. This job growth continued into 2015 as total nonfarm employment was up 80 from last January (+1.5%). Layoffs in wood product manufacturing over the past year (-110) continued to slow countywide job growth; however, these losses are more than made up for by growth in other industries.

Deschutes County (Bend-Redmond MSA): The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 7.1 percent in January from 7.6 percent in December. Unemployment levels are down from this time last year when it was 8.5 percent.

Employment dipped by 600 jobs in January, due largely to normal seasonal declines in retail trade and leisure and hospitality. But January’s declines were much lower than the expected decline of 1,640 jobs.

Mining, logging, and construction added 40 jobs in January; the industry typically experiences large declines this time of year. This growth is likely due to the unseasonably warm weather that favored road and building construction.

Deschutes County also is adding jobs at a faster pace than initially estimated. Over the past year, total nonfarm employment rose by 4,550 jobs (+7%).

The county only needs to add about 420 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis to match the peak employment month prior to the recession, Runberg said.

All private sector industries expanded over the past year. The largest gains were seen in mining, logging, and construction (+940); retail trade (+820); and professional and business services (+730).

Jefferson County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in January, down from 9.2 percent in December. The rate was 9.8 percent this time last year, a statistically significant decline.

Jefferson County lost 90 jobs in January, less than the loss of 130 jobs typically expected this time of year.

Total nonfarm employment was up 190 jobs over the past year (+3.3%). Private-sector employment growth was carried by strong gains in manufacturing (+60 jobs). Government employment posted significant job gains from last January due to expansion in local government (+110).

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the February county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, March 24 th and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data on Tuesday, March 17 th .

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