(Update: Adding statewide stats)
Help wanted ads show 'very high' demand for labor
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Central Oregon in April saw a typical hiring pace for this time of year, as unemployment rates slipped downward, approaching record lows seen before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Oregon Employment Department reported Tuesday.
"Recent revisions using payroll tax records revealed that the expansion has not been as robust as previously estimated in Deschutes County," Regional Economist Damon Runberg said.
"However, total nonfarm payroll levels remain fully recovered from the pandemic shock," he said. "Both Crook and Jefferson counties saw large upward revisions, as hiring had been stronger than initially estimated through the end of last year."
The demand for labor, as measured by help wanted ads, remains very high, with total ads up 72% from pre-pandemic levels, the economist noted. "However, there are some signs of demand slipping, as April saw the first over-the-year decline in help wanted ads (-3.2%) since the region began recovering from the pandemic," Runberg said.
Although employment was revised down, Deschutes County remains in an expansion, with total nonfarm employment above pre-pandemic peaks. Both Crook and Jefferson counties saw upward revisions to employment levels.
Strong job growth led to continued declines in local area unemployment rates in April. Runberg said.
Crook County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.0% in April, down from a revised rate of 5.2% in March. The unemployment rate is fast approaching the record low set before the pandemic in April 2020, when it was 4.4%.
Crook County added 120 jobs in April, typical gains for this time of year. Employment levels in Crook County are up 11% from pre-pandemic levels in February 2020 (+760 jobs).
Recent revisions revealed that the recovery and expansion from the COVID-19 pandemic has been stronger than initially estimated. Not only did Crook County recover from the pandemic losses, but total nonfarm employment is now higher than its previous peak in 2007.
The county added 500 jobs in the last year (+7.4%). Job gains continue to be dominated by information and construction, each adding 140 jobs over the past year. There was also a notable gain of 80 jobs in professional and business services. Most of this growth is associated with the data centers in Prineville. The only losses were a modest decline of 20 jobs in private education and health services and 10 jobs in federal agencies.
Deschutes County (Bend-Redmond MSA): The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.5% in April, down from 3.6% in March. The difference between today’s unemployment rate and the record low level of 3.3% before the onset of the pandemic is not statistically significant.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that Deschutes County added 810 jobs in April, typical gains for this time of year. Recent revisions using payroll tax records showed that hiring at the end of 2021 was slower than initially estimated. Despite this downward revision employment estimates for April 2022 exceeded February 2020 levels before the onset of the pandemic by 740 jobs (+1%).
Deschutes County’s total nonfarm employment expanded by 2.3% (+2,020 jobs) from April 2021. The largest share of these gains remain in the leisure and hospitality sector, adding 1,210 jobs in the past year (+10.3%) as the industry bounces back from COVID-19 impacts. The only other industry to post large job gains over the past year was manufacturing, with a gain of 400 jobs (+7.2%). A few sectors began posting job losses, including both federal and state government agencies (-5.2%); retail trade (-2.8%); and information (-2.3%).
Jefferson County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.8% in April, down from 4.9% in March. The unemployment rate is fast approaching levels in April 2020 when it was 4.1% before the first impacts from COVID-19.
Total nonfarm employment rose by 150 jobs in April, a normal pace of hiring for this time of year. Recent revisions using payroll tax records revealed that hiring was stronger than initially estimated. Employment levels in Jefferson County remain down 40 jobs (-0.5%) from levels just before the onset of the pandemic in February 2020.
Jefferson County added 170 jobs over the past year (+2.6%). Job gains were concentrated in leisure and hospitality (+90 jobs) and wood product manufacturing (+50 jobs). Job losses over the past year were limited to just private education and health services and transportation, warehousing, and utilities, each sector declining by a modest 20 jobs.
April 2022 Employment News in Oregon Counties and Metropolitan Areas
In April, unemployment rates declined in 28 of Oregon’s 36 counties. Unemployment rates in seven counties did not decline, but held steady over the month. The unemployment rate in Gilliam County increased over the month. Twelve counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 3.7% in April. Eleven counties had unemployment rates below the national rate of 3.6%.
Klamath County had Oregon’s highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (5.4%) in April. Other counties with relatively high unemployment rates were Grant (5.3%), Curry (5.1%), Crook (5.0%), and Lincoln (5.0%). Benton County registered the lowest unemployment rate in April, at 2.9%. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in April included Wheeler (3.0%), Washington (3.1%), and Hood River (3.1%).
Between April 2021 and April 2022, total nonfarm employment rose in each of the six broad regions across Oregon. The five Portland metro counties and Willamette Valley region experienced the fastest job growth over the year at 3.8% each. Employment also grew at a relatively fast pace in the Central Oregon region (2.8%). Growth occurred at a slower pace in Southern Oregon (0.8%), Eastern Oregon (0.7%), and along the Coast (0.7%).
Next Press Releases
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the May county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Wednesday, June 22 and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for May on Wednesday, June 15.