Region’s unemployment rates continue to fall to pre-pandemic levels


Unemployment levels continued to tumble across Central Oregon in November with rates only 1.5 percentage points or less off their historic low levels before the pandemic, according to the Oregon Employment Department. 

Regional Economist Damon Runberg said the improvement to the unemployment rate is due to rapid hiring with a recovery of total nonfarm employment levels across the region. 

Deschutes County (Bend-Redmond MSA):

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped significantly in November to 4.6% from 4.9% in October.

Runberg said the unemployment rate remains higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020 when it was at a record low of 3.3%; however, levels of unemployment are well below the 10-year average of 6.9%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that Deschutes County posted very strong hiring in November.

The county added 160 jobs in November at a time when a loss of 300 would be more typical based on normal seasonal patterns, Runberg said.

Employment levels in November 2021 exceeded November 2019 levels before the onset of the pandemic by 870 jobs (+1%).

Total nonfarm employment in local businesses has recovered from the pandemic shock.

The leisure sector continues its fast recovery, adding 80 jobs in November and 2,130 in the past year (+19.7%), Runberg said. 

Leisure and hospitality employment is now only 1.4% below 2019 levels after shedding 54% of its jobs during the initial stay-at-home order in spring 2020.

Runberg said there were also large gains in manufacturing (+850 jobs); local government education (+830 jobs); and construction (+390) over the past year.

Job losses were largely concentrated in retail trade (-370 jobs).

Crook County:

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped significantly to 5.9% in November, down from 6.2% in October, Runberg said. 

The unemployment rate is now only 1.5 percentage points higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020 when it was 4.4%.

Crook County continued to post seasonally adjusted job gains in November, losing 40 fewer jobs than typically expected this time of year, he said. 

Employment levels in Crook County are up 5% from pre-pandemic levels in November 2019 (+330 jobs).

Runberg said strong hiring over the past year remains concentrated in businesses that support the Prineville data centers.

Construction added 200 jobs from last November and information was up 60.

There was also a gain of 40 jobs in professional and business services. Leisure and hospitality added 40 jobs from November 2020, but the industry still remains down around 6% from 2019 levels.

Jefferson County:

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in November, down from 5.8% in October, he said. 

The unemployment rate is fast approaching levels in February 2020 when it was 4.1% before the first impacts from COVID-19.

Total nonfarm employment fell by 90 jobs in November, which represents fairly typical seasonal losses for this time of year, according to Runberg.

Jefferson County is nearing an employment recovery from the pandemic shock with employment in November 2021 only down by 0.6% (-40 jobs) from levels in November 2019.

Job gains over the past year were concentrated in local government (+120 jobs); manufacturing (+60 jobs); and leisure and hospitality (+30 jobs).

There were notable job losses in private education and health services, shedding 50 jobs from November 2020, and professional and businesses services (-40 jobs), he said. 


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