Central Oregon jobless numbers improve slightly

Deschutes and Crook County jobless numbers saw a modest improvement in May, according to data released Tuesday by the Oregon Employment Department.

Unemployment rates in both counties dropped by about 2% from April.

Regional Economist Damon Runberg said the final week of the data was the same week most areas in Central Oregon entered phase one of reopening. 

“It’s important to note that we saw some minor job growth, but that only represents about one in ten people who lost their jobs in April came back in May,” Runberg said. “So we’ve got a long way to go before we start calling this a recovery.” 

Layoffs at the Madras-based company Bright Wood caused Jefferson County unemployment to rise again in May. It was the only county in the state to increase.

“When other types of businesses that were hit by COVID, such as your leisure and hospitality businesses, your restaurants, hotels — when those starting adding jobs back or bringing back those on temporary lay-off, this one manufacturing layoff sort of hit and went the other direction,” Runberg said. 

Runberg expected more improvement in the next month’s numbers, which will encompass the rest of phase one and the first part of phase two reopening for Central Oregon.

Employment in Central Oregon (1)
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