The recovery surged in March behind significant job gains across all three counties, according to a new report from the Oregon Employment Department.
Regional Economist Damon Runberg said the region posted the strongest monthly job gains since last summer.
“We are now one year out from the first pandemic impacts captured in the employment and labor force data,” he said. “It is important to note that looking at over-the-year change is no longer a reflection of pre-COVID trends.”
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped significantly in March to 7.3%, down from 7.9% in February.
The unemployment rate remains higher than in March 2020 when it was 4.8%. Employment levels rose significantly in March, up 120 jobs (+1.9%) on a seasonally adjusted basis.
The monthly gains in March were the second-highest in our current recovery, only trailing the June 2020 gain of 170 jobs after the initial lockdowns eased.
Monthly job gains were spread across a variety of industries with the largest in leisure and hospitality (+60 jobs) and construction (+50 jobs). There were also notable gains in education, health services, and professional and business services.
Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment in March 2021 was down by only 90 jobs (-1.3%) from before the first COVID-19 impacts in February 2020.
Deschutes County (Bend-Redmond MSA)
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.6% in March, down from 6.8% in February.
The rate remains up from March 2020 when it was 3.3%.
Hiring surged in March across Deschutes County with 1,880 jobs (+2.2%) jobs added on a seasonally adjusted basis from February.
The gains in March were the largest since last July when the county added 2,760 jobs in a single month.
Those monthly gains were largely concentrated in leisure and hospitality (+1,120 jobs) as many restaurants reopened for indoor dining. However, there were also strong gains in retail trade, local government education, private education and health services, and manufacturing.
Compared with the Pre-COVID peak in February 2020 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment in Deschutes County remained down just 3.4% (-3,030 jobs).
Just three months ago the county was down by 6.7%, an amazing pace of recovery over the past two months.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped slightly to 6.8% in March, down from 6.9% in February.
The rate was 4.2% in March 2020. Jefferson County posted a gain of 40 jobs (~1%) on a seasonally adjusted basis in March, a slightly slower pace of growth than neighboring counties.
Those monthly gains were almost entirely in local government and leisure and hospitality. Despite a slower pace of recovery in March, Jefferson County is the nearest of the Central Oregon counties to a complete recovery from the COVID-19 shock.
Seasonally adjusted employment levels were only down 0.8% (-60 jobs) from the pre-COVID peak in February 2020.