Central Oregon employment situation improving despite December job losses

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Central Oregon posted monthly job losses in December for the first time since April following a surge in COVID cases this fall and increased public health measures to slow the spread of the disease, according to the state Employment Department.

Regional Economist Damon Runberg said Deschutes County’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.6% in December, up significantly from 6.7% in December.

“Despite the losses in December, there has been considerable improvement to the employment situation since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March,” Runberg said.

The rate remains up from December 2019 when it was 3.2%.

Deschutes County lost 840 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in December, the first monthly job loss since April.

These monthly losses were concentrated in leisure and hospitality.

Compared to this time last year, employment in Deschutes County remained down 7.2% (-6,360 jobs).

The county recovered 8,330 of the 15,340 jobs lost in April, or roughly 54% of jobs lost have been added back, Runberg said.

“We continue to see losses concentrated in leisure and hospitality with employment levels down nearly 30% from December 2019,” he said. “There have also been notable losses in manufacturing (-16.9%) and local government education (-14.3%).”

Crook County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 7.6% in December, up from 7.4% in November.

The unemployment rate remains significantly higher than in December 2019 when it was 4.7%. Crook County posted employment declines in December following 7 months of continuous gains from the COVID-19 shock.

The county lost 70 jobs in December on a seasonally adjusted basis.

“Despite job losses in December, the employment recovery in Crook County remains one of the strongest in the state with employment levels down only 1.9% from last December (-120 jobs),” Runberg said.

The job losses are largely concentrated in leisure and hospitality (-160 jobs) and manufacturing (-100).

Jefferson County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.1% in December, an increase from 6.8% in November.

The rate was 4% in December 2019. Jefferson County posted a small gain of 20 jobs in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, one of the few counties to see employment gains in December.

“Although the county did not lose jobs in December, the pace of recovery continues to slow,” Runberg said. “Employment levels are only down around 3.1% from this time last year (-200 jobs), as the county has already regained nearly 75% of the jobs lost since the initial COVID-19 shock.”

The leisure and hospitality sector remains down by 100 jobs from this time last year; however, the drop of roughly 16% isn’t nearly as severe as in other communities.

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