BEND, OR -- The tri-county area continues its trend of job growth, with the typical numbers of jobs added and lost in August. But, experts say things will slow, eventually.
Deschutes County's unemployment rate, last month, dipped to a new record low of 3.7%. Jefferson county fell slightly to 4.8% and Crook County held steady at 5.4%. Deschutes County's rate is about half a point lower than a year ago, while both Crook and Jefferson counties are about 1% lower. Regional employment economist Damon Runberg says there are drastic differences between the counties in how their jobless rates are achieved, but they're fairly typical for this time of year. "We're pretty much as low as we're going to get, I think. For the most part, hiring continues at sort of a steady pace, but if we look at sort of the job change over the last three or four months on a seasonally adjusted basis, we're starting to see that we're sort of just matching seasonal expectations." He adds, "Some of it has to do with how severe the recession was in each of those communities, and some of it has to do with opportunities for employment growth."
Runberg says Central Oregon will continue to enjoy a healthy economy, but by perhaps 2020, job growth could slow dramatically, "It definitely seems like we're going to continue to see the rate of growth slow down at the end of 2018 and early 2019, as well." He tells KBND News, "We try not to use the big 'R' Word, but sort of some policy things combined with where we're at in the business cycle; we think we'll probably be able to maintain this momentum through 2019. But after that, we might see a significant slowdown in the state of Oregon."
Deschutes County lost 150 jobs in August, which is slightly less than expected. The biggest losses were in retail trade while the largest gains were in the construction sector. Crook County added a total of 20 jobs, last month; fewer than expected. And, Jefferson County lost 70 jobs, which is in line with seasonal norms.