BEND, OR -- For years, tourism fueled the region's job growth. But the latest employment numbers show Leisure & Hospitality is the one sector in Deschutes County that has not seen year-over-year job growth.
In March, Deschutes County's jobless rate remained at a historic low 4%. Regional Economist Damon Runberg tells KBND News the tight labor market is likely contributing to the stagnant growth in tourism jobs. "As the unemployment rate gets so low, those are businesses that tend to have a lot of lower paying jobs, a lot of part-time, or shifts that aren't preferable," says Runberg. "So, as other job opportunities are available, it might just be that those businesses are having the hardest time trying to fill some of their vacancies."
The plateauing of tourism-related jobs may also mean growth in this previously robust industry has finally slowed. Runberg says, "If there's anything to look out for, it's what happens when we enter into the really prime hiring season in the midst of such historically low unemployment rates. So, like I said, that issue of the tourism industry perhaps struggling to fill those vacancies, that is a narrative and it's only going to become more exaggerated as we move into late spring and early summer."
Professional & Business Services, Healthcare and Retail have seen the largest local job gains, recently.