BEND, OR -- Not only has Deschutes County recovered from recession-level unemployment, it's now in a period of expansion, according to Regional Economist Damon Runberg. Unemployment fell from 6% in March to 5.6% in April. "When we were previously at the same employment levels, a lot of jobs we added back then were construction jobs, due to the housing bubble. What we're seeing today is that we're seeing construction rebound. But, the growth isn't exclusively to construction," Runberg tells KBND. "We're seeing it across a variety of industries. In fact, no industry lost jobs over the last year in Deschutes County, so it really is widespread growth."
Jefferson County's April unemployment rate was also encouraging. With the addition of 170 jobs last month, the rate fell .6%. Runberg says, "If you put Jefferson County up against pretty much any rural community in Oregon, it's up there in the top for how the county is doing. The unemployment rate went down to 6.7%, that's a huge drop from last year when it was 9.6%. The county has added 310 jobs in the last year, which actually puts Jefferson County as the third fastest of Oregon's counties for job growth."
Runberg says one Central Oregon county did not show such positive job growth. "In fact, recovery in Crook County remains far, far away - Many years from now, if ever, based on those bubble years of employment they saw back with large, large construction employment that was lost." Crook County's rate fell from 8.9% in March to 8.3% in April.