Central Oregon unemployment rate drops; fewer people claiming jobless benefits

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Unemployment rates dropped across Central Oregon in June and fewer people are claiming jobless benefits, according to a report from the Oregon Employment Department.

Damon Runberg, the regional economist for the OED, said the number of residents claiming benefits in Central Oregon dropped each month this year and was down by 60% in June from levels in January.

Deschutes County (Bend-Redmond MSA):

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate ticked down to 5.9% in June from 6.1% in May.

The unemployment rate remains higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020 when it was 3.3%.

Deschutes County added 1,710 jobs in June, which exceeded normal seasonal expectations by around 300 jobs (+0.4%).

After these job gains in June, employment levels in Deschutes County remain down 5% (-4,500 jobs) from the pre-COVID peak in February 2020.

Job gains in June were concentrated in retail trade (+590 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+490 jobs); and construction (+130).

These are industries that typically add jobs this time of year.

In fact, the leisure and hospitality sector continues to underperform typical seasonal hiring despite employment levels being down over 18% from levels in June 2019, Runberg said.

It is important to note that these estimates are preliminary and subject to revisions. In fact, these estimates will be revised next month with payroll records through the first quarter of 2021, he said.

Crook County

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.4% in June, down slightly from 7.6% in May.

The unemployment rate remains higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020 when it was 4.4%. Crook County added 120 jobs in June, a marginally slower pace of hiring than typically expected this time of year.

Total nonfarm employment in June was roughly equivalent to the pre-COVID peak in February 2020.

Monthly job gains were concentrated in leisure and hospitality (+40 jobs); however, employment levels remain down by 130 jobs from June 2019.

There was also modest growth in professional and business services; construction; federal government; and state government. Much of this growth was typical seasonal hiring.

Jefferson County:

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.8% in June, down slightly from 7.0% in May.

The unemployment rate remains higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020 when it was 4.1%.

Total nonfarm employment rose by 80 jobs in June, fairly typical hiring for this time of year. Employment levels remain down around 1.4% (-100 jobs) from the pre-COVID peak in February 2020.

Monthly job gains were concentrated in leisure and hospitality (+30 jobs); Indian tribal government (+30 jobs); and retail trade (+20 jobs).

The job gains in leisure and hospitality have largely matched seasonal expectations the past several months with the industry struggling to recover from the pandemic.

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