BEND, OR -- Central Oregon jobless rates held relatively steady last month.
Although economic growth has slowed, Regional Economist Damon Runberg says the overall employment picture remains positive, "We’re staying right around 4% [growth] in Deschutes County, up from this time last year. We’ve been fluctuating between three to 4% for the last six to seven months, so we’ve been pretty steady there. That is a slower pace of growth than we’ve seen over the last three or four years. In 2016, 2015, we had hit upwards of 7% growth, year over year." And, he says that wasn’t sustainable, so he’s not surprised to see hiring level out where it is.
In February, Deschutes County added 520 jobs, which is more than typical for this time of year. Although, the county’s jobless rate ticked up .2% to 4.3%. For the region’s more rural counties, Runberg says things are a little different, because they can no longer be lumped together, "Jefferson County has been doing pretty well. A lot of that is driven by sustained growth in manufacturing, whereas Crook, employment levels are actually down a little bit, about 50 jobs from this time last year. Now, that’s less than 1% drop in employment, so not really a significant drop. But, needless to say, everyone else is adding jobs and Crook County is the one exception." Jefferson County’s jobless rate is 5.6%; Crook County is at 6%.
January's hiring numbers have been adjusted for Deschutes County, after initially showing a big jump
, "We actually saw the Bureau of Labor Statistics revise those numbers down for January, to something more in line with what I would’ve expected," Runberg tells KBND News, "So, it wasn’t quite as extreme, that seasonally adjusted hiring, and it was more in line with what we’ve seen the last couple of months." And, he says February's numbers are in line with what he would expect for this time of year.