BEND, OR -- Central Oregon unemployment rates stabilized in October after a volatile September. Regional Economist Damon Runburg says he didn’t expect those previous job losses to continue, "That big drop we saw in September, which was largely effected by the wildfire smoke, was really just some of these seasonal jobs lost sooner than typically would be lost. But they were going to be shed at some point anyway, so we’re kind of back on track."
Runberg tells KBND News, "We had some pretty significant seasonally adjusted losses; the unemployment rate ticked up significantly in September. And then, we roll around to these October numbers and it turned out that we had actually slight seasonally adjusted gains in the month of October." Deschutes County’s jobless rate held relatively steady at 4.2% in October; Jefferson County’s rate was unchanged at 5.6%; and, in Crook County, the unemployment rate ticked up 2-tenths of a point, to 6.5%.
While unemployment rates are leveling off, more people are looking for work, which is expanding the labor force. And, they're finding jobs. "In general, Central Oregon has this tendency where, if jobs are available, people are going to move here for those jobs," says Runberg. "We have such high quality of life that we don’t have that much of an issue attracting folks. So, the market’s responding; the labor force is growing. With the expanding labor force and the strong population numbers that we just got from Portland State University, the question’s obviously, ‘how are we going to deal with this continuing challenge of housing affordability and availability?’"