County's jobless rate pushes past 14 percent

Jackson County's jobless rate crested the 14 percent mark in May, setting another record, according to figures released today by the Oregon Employment Department.

Even though Jackson County payroll employment rose by 530 positions from April to May, Employment Department figures show a loss of 3,390 jobs from the previous May, a 4.1 percent decline. As a result, the county's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hit 14.2 percent, up from 13.8 percent in April and nearly double the 7.3 percent rate of May 2008.

The county rate has remained higher this spring than the statewide unemployment rate, which at 12.4 percent in May was the second highest in the nation. It also is the county's highest unemployment rate since the state began tracking such figures.

Josephine County's May rate, also announced today, was 14.9 percent, a slight improvement over its 15.2 percent jobless rate for April.

The Employment Department gauged the county workforce — the number of people employed and looking for work — at 104,682 compared to 101,056 a year ago.

"People who weren't in the labor force a year ago are back in," said Regional Economist Guy Tauer. "Maybe it's because of declining stock wealth, or declining home values. It might be a person who was the only member of the family working and the family is having a hard time making it. Now the spouse is starting to looking for work.

"There are just more people competing for a smaller number of jobs because of the financial conditions."

The numbers include month-over-month gains in construction, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and local government sectors.

— Greg Stiles

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