BEND, OR -- Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook Counties continue with record low unemployment, but October saw slightly higher numbers than in previous months. Regional Economist Damon Runberg says he believes it's because the growth rate is beginning to slow. "We're still growing like gangbusters, 4.5% growth in our job base year over year, we are seeing the rate of job growth slow, unemployment rate ticking up just a little bit. You put those two together and I think that's a sign that we've definitely reached the bottom of the unemployment rate."
Each of the counties lost jobs in October, but Runberg says job losses are no reason to worry. "We have not heard, or seen, any major layoff events, so we're not too concerned that this is because of layoffs." Runberg says overall, there were more than 1,300 jobs lost in October, but he says it's to be expected as the tourist season slows. "We have this sort of yin and yang that happens in the fall, these education jobs coming on at the same time you're having these tourism jobs fall off the books, so in the end, we're seeing job losses right now, but that's to be expected this time of year."
The low unemployment rates should trend through 2019, according to Runberg, "We saw the unemployment rate tick up slightly in all three counties, and so we've basically gone from historically low levels to just barely off of historically low levels," but he believes there will be significant slowdowns in 2020.
Deschutes County's October Jobless rate is at 4%, Crook County ticked up slightly to 5.7%, and Jefferson County's unemployment rate rose to 5.2%.