BEND, OR -- Estimates show that there were modest employment gains in August, especially in Jefferson County with the seasonal jobs created by the total solar eclipse event, but, Regional Economist Damon Runberg, says unemployment continues to rise. "So, it sounds like a bit of a contradiction there, how do you have hiring at a higher rate, or a faster rate, than you'd expect, and at the same time, the level of unemployment goes up and the answer is, this continued push of a growing labor force is helping to drive up the unemployment rate, and that's actually a good thing right now."
Runberg continues, saying the contradicting numbers are due to more people looking for work, not because businesses are experiencing layoffs. "We saw the unemployment rate actually increase across Central Oregon, significantly so, which means it went up more than just what we'd call 'statistical noise,' we actually saw a substantive increase in the unemployment rate, but at the same time, seasonal hiring was actually a bit stronger that we would typically expect this time of year."
September numbers may reflect what, if any, the effects were from the total solar eclipse or the forest fires, and whether those events were significant. "What I'm curious about is some of the effects that the wildfire smoke perhaps had, so I'm going to be keeping an eye on the transient room numbers that will come out, occupancy rates on our hotels, and just keep an eye on some of the job numbers in the tourist industry and if we saw much of an effect there, and I think it probably made a noticeable impact, but we might not notice that until the September numbers come out."
Deschutes County's unemployment rate went up to 4.2% ... Crook County's , to 6.1% ... and Jefferson County's rose to 5.4%.