County's jobless rate shows small improvement

Jackson County's jobless rate clawed its way a bit lower in May, following state and national trends, albeit in a slower, less vibrant fashion.

Seasonally adjusted figures compiled by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a 9.5 percent unemployment rate last month, slightly better than the 9.6 percent April rate and a substantial improvement over the 10.9 percent mark a year earlier.

The local jobless rate is 2 percent higher than the state and national figures, but lower than neighboring Josephine County's 11.1 percent unemployment mark, which remained the same for the second month.

The federal report indicated a declining labor force, rather than job creation, contributed to unemployment falling below double-digit levels.

A year ago, Jackson County's civilian labor force was gauged at 100,176, but last month there were 3,501 fewer workers. But of the 96,675 people in the labor force, an additional 670 found work.

The only private sector industries losing jobs during May, according to Oregon Employment Department economist Guy Tauer, were professional and business services, which saw a decline of 120 positions, and educational and health services, which fell by 40 spots.

Industries showing the largest estimated monthly increases were retail trade, which picked up 220 additional positions, along with leisure and hospitality, which tacked on 280 roles. Manufacturing produced 60 additional jobs in May.

Led by local government, total government employment gained 190 jobs in May.

Health care and social assistance saw the biggest year-over-year gains, adding 530 people to its payrolls. Manufacturing picked up 330 jobs, while accommodations and food services saw 290 new positions. Construction reflected a modest uptick in residential building over the past year with 140 new jobs.

— Greg Stiles

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