County jobless rate falls slightly to 10.6%

There were more people working in Jackson County during March, but not enough to make a serious dent in the continued double-digit unemployment.

Figures produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 210 more people were working last month than February and 470 more than a year ago.

The 0.6 percent gain resulted in a slight decrease in the county's seasonally adjusted jobless rate to 10.6 percent in March, down from 10.7 percent in February and 11.3 percent a year earlier.

There were 89,157 people employed in the county in March, a jump of 893 from a year earlier.

"We saw gains in late 2011, then it was down in the early part of 2012," said Guy Tauer, a regional economist for the state Employment Department. "We're back into the positive category, but it's been bouncing around, so one month doesn't necessarily make a trend."

Leisure and hospitality employment grew by 310 positions in the past year, including a jump of 150 in March, while accommodation and food services tacked on 70 positions.

"The outfitters we work with on the Rogue started adding to their staff last month," said Carolyn Hill of the Southern Oregon Visitors Association. "They had a good season and we've been marketing the heck out of the Rogue River and wilderness experience."

She said international travel has picked up at the national and state level and is spilling into Southern Oregon as well.

"We've been seeing the itineraries from tour operators in Europe, China and wherever," Hill said.

"Whenever you get into a catalog it opens up the market in a big way. It takes four to five years to develop that long-term benefit, but we're seeing it happen now."

Tauer said goods-producing industries construction and manufacturing registered gains of 30 and 60 jobs.

"Outside of the major commercial projects, I'm not seeing a lot in the pipeline," Tauer cautioned. "Building permit activity has not changed much in the first two months from what we saw last year."

Professional and business services dropped 80 positions during the month, while health care and social assistance fell by 30 jobs.

Josephine County saw its March seasonally adjusted jobless rate fall to 11.5 percent from 11.7 percent in February. The unemployment figure was 12.8 percent a year ago.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email

Share This Story