Jobless rates rose across state last month

Jackson County has company in Monday's announcement of its record jobless rate.

Thirty-three of the state's 36 counties posted unemployment rates of at least 10 percent in May. And the rate has doubled from a year ago in all but five counties, the new figures from the Oregon Employment Department show.

The Crook County unemployment rate hit a statewide high of 20.9 percent. Deschutes County, with an unemployment rate of 16.7 percent, added about 1,000 jobs, mostly in tourism and hospitality. But that wasn't enough to offset people from other sectors looking for work, particularly construction.

"In the summertime, when unemployment is supposed to be lower, ours has gone up, said Carolyn Eagan, a regional economist based in Bend. "That's one reason why these numbers are so disconcerting."

In the Portland metro region, which includes seven counties, the unemployment rate of 12.3 percent was 0.4 percent higher than in April. That was considered good news because the jobless rate had been rising at a faster pace in recent months.

The Salem-area jobless rate climbed to 12.4 percent in May, on par with the rates reached during the recession of the early 1980s.

In Lane County, which includes Eugene, the unemployment rate jumped to 14.2 percent in May — the highest for that month since 1958, when the state Employment Department began recording the local jobless rate. Jackson County's rate also hit a record-breaking 14.2 percent in May.

An estimated 11,000 Oregonians are projected to run out of unemployment benefits between September and December, said Tom Fuller, an Employment Department spokesman. The Legislature is considering House Bill 3500, which would extend benefits for those workers.

— The Associated Press

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