BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's latest unemployment numbers show signs the economy is slowing. Regional Economist Damon Runberg tells KBND education hiring in Deschutes County was week this fall. "The effect of that estimate reverberated through the rest of our employment situation and made it look like, as a county as a whole, we saw really weak hiring in September. I'm not necessarily convinced that's the case." The latest numbers show only 440 teachers hired in the county in September, compared to 1,000 last fall. Runberg is skeptical the Bend-La Pine School District only hired half the number of teachers and he expects employment numbers will be adjusted.
Runberg says the tourism industry cut jobs. "We expect the tourism to drop this time of year. Over a thousand jobs were shed in September in the tourism sector; so our Leisure and Hospitality, etc. And that's totally to be expected. Although, we actually saw a bigger drop than we typically see in September. But, part of that was in the last couple of years we've seen our tourism season actually extend a little longer, then we just saw one big drop in September."
Deschutes County's unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged in September, at 6.6%. Runberg says Jefferson and Crook counties also held steady. "Crook County, they're still feeling the effects of the layoffs in the wood production sector that happened last fall and winter. If you exclude those layoffs that they saw in the Wood Grain facility, Crook County is actually doing OK. Employment levels are up by over 100 jobs and most private sector industries are adding jobs. It's kind of a tough narrative there because you do have one big layoff but everything else is doing OK." Crook County's unemployment is at 8.8% and Jefferson County is 7.7% for September.