Strong hiring reported in December; local unemployment levels tumble

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Central Oregon posted strong hiring in December on a seasonally adjusted basis and unemployment levels continued to tumble, according to new data from the Oregon Employment Department. 

Regional Economist Damon Runberg said these estimates are already in the process of annual benchmark revisions. 

A more detailed year-in-review will be available after the release of these revisions in March, he said. 

Deschutes County (Bend-Redmond MSA):

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped significantly in December to 4.3% from 4.6% in November.

The unemployment rate is now only 1 percentage point above the record low of 3.3% before the onset of the pandemic, Runberg said. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that Deschutes County posted exceptionally fast growth in December with employment up 2,140 jobs in the month on a seasonally adjusted basis (+2.4%).

These are preliminary estimates that are subject to annual benchmark revisions using payroll tax records that will be released with the January estimates. 

These preliminary employment estimates for December 2021 exceeded December 2019 levels before the onset of the pandemic by 1,920 jobs (+2.1%).

Based on these estimates total nonfarm employment in local businesses has recovered from the pandemic shock.

Deschutes County’s total nonfarm employment expanded by 8.4% (+6,990 jobs) from December 2020.

Most of that growth was concentrated in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector that added 4,040 jobs in the past year, an astonishing +42.3%. Based on these preliminary estimates the leisure sector has completely recovered from COVID job losses with employment levels now up around 1% from December 2019.

There was also strong job growth in manufacturing (+900 jobs); local government education (+530 jobs); financial activities (+370); and other services (+310).

The only notable job losses were in federal government (-60 jobs) and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-120).

Crook County:

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped significantly to 5.6% in December, down from 5.9% in November.

The unemployment rate is fast approaching levels from before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020 when it was 4.4%, Runberg said. 

Crook County saw a modest gain of 20 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in December.

Employment levels in Crook County are up 4.6% from prepandemic levels in December 2019 (+300 jobs).

The county added 380 jobs in the last year (+5.9%), very fast growth compared with other rural counties across the state. Job gains were concentrated in construction (+140 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+110); and information (+60). There were no notable industry job losses.

Jefferson County:

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.3% in December, down from 5.6% in November.

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

Total nonfarm employment rose by 60 jobs in December on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Strong hiring the past several months pushed Jefferson County’s total employment in line with levels from 2019 before the onset of the pandemic. Jefferson County added 210 jobs over the past year (+3.3%).

These gains were largely concentrated in Indian Tribal government (+150 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+80); and manufacturing (+40).

The county did post notable job losses in private education and health services (-60 jobs) and professional and business services (-40).

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