Region’s unemployment rate falls; Deschutes Co. regains 40% of jobs lost due to COVID

The unemployment rate in Central Oregon continues to rebound from the onset of the pandemic, but the pace of recovery has moderated dramatically since moving into Phase 2 of reopening in June.

Damon Runberg, a regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department reported Tuesday the unemployment rate for Deschtues County fell to 7.7% in August, down from 10.9 percent in July.

Despite the dramatic improvement over the past several months the rate remains significantly higher than before the COVID-19 crisis; it was 3.3 percent in March 2020.

“We continue to see dramatic improvement to the local labor market,” Runberg said. “Unemployment levels dropping very fast. Total nonfarm payroll employment moving in the right direction, but not recovering as quickly.”

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment posted strong gains in August after stalling in July.

Deschutes County added 580 jobs (+0.7%) in August after a revised gain of only 30 jobs in July, Runberg said.

Total nonfarm employment remains down roughly 10% from the peak before the COVID-19 crisis in February 2020 (-9,020 jobs).

Although the labor market remains far from recovered, Deschutes County has regained roughly 40 percent of the 14,860 jobs lost during the onset of the pandemic.

Recent revisions backed off some of the recovery initially reported in leisure and hospitality, which now shows a 3,630 job loss (-24%) since August 2019.

Other hard-hit industries include retail trade, education and health services, and manufacturing. Mining, logging, and construction was the only major industry sector to add jobs over the past year (+140 jobs).

In Jefferson County the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.1% in August, down from 11.1% in July.

The rate remains up significantly from before the COVID-19 crisis; it was 4.2% in March 2020.

Jefferson County’s recovery gained some momentum in August as the county added 130 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, following a gain of only 20 jobs in July.

Jefferson County has only added back around 25% of the total nonfarm jobs lost during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Crook County fell to 8.9% in August, down from 11.4% in July.

The unemployment rate is much improved since May, but still higher than before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; it was 4.8% in March 2020.

Crook County has recovered 180 of the 800 jobs lost during the COVID-19 crisis.

Employment in Central Oregon (2)
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