BEND, OR -- Local unemployment rates ticked up slightly in August. Regional Economist Dallas Fridley is not surprised all three counties saw similar increases, "We’ve had such a long string of months where we’ve had rates improving, that doesn’t mean they’re going to continue to improve because, let’s face it, we’re at or near historic lows. There really is nowhere to go but up, in terms of rates, so they’re really not going to get much lower. And this 0.2% increase, while it did happen, is not a huge deal yet."
He says “yet” because he doesn’t believe talk of a global recession is impacting Central Oregon jobless rates, "We’re not adding quite as many jobs as we had early on. A lot of industries have been hiring - even Leisure and Hospitality is getting closer to its pre-pandemic level. So there really isn’t as many gains to be made and, again, really the rate of those gains is slowing down."
Deschutes County’s rate is now 3.6%; Crook County’s is 4.9%, and in Jefferson County it’s now 4.8%. While unemployment edged up, Fridley says the labor force is still growing with Deschutes County adding 320 jobs last month.
Fridley isn’t concerned the uptick is the start of a trend, and he thinks we’ll see more job gains in the coming season, despite recession rumors, "Really, what’s important for all of it, for tourism, for retail, for Leisure & Hospitality, Accommodations & Food Services is for the winter recreation season to get off without a hitch." That, of course, will be dependent on the weather. "Even if we’re in a recession, if it’s a good year for snow, we’re still going to have a good recreational season," Fridley tells KBND News, "It does help lift the area. Let’s face it, folks aren’t going to give up their winter recreation activity if they can still afford to do it."