County's construction employment climbs 4 percent

Jackson County's construction employment grew 4 percent year-over-year, making it Oregon's No. 2 region for job creation in the sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Associated General Contractors of America said Tuesday Medford was one of 126 areas in the nation where construction employment increased during May. Of the 337 areas surveyed, 164 saw declines and another 47 saw little movement.

Medford recorded a 4 percent year-over-year bump, putting it in a tie for 65th nationally in construction employment gains. Local construction employment grew to 2,900 from 2,800 a year ago.

"We have had decent growth, thanks to several projects in both private and government sectors," said Ainoura Oussenbec of the Oregon Employment Department.

"Our region has a strong regional retail trade hub, serving not only our region's population but also that of several neighboring counties. We are lucky therefore to have attracted investment from major companies such as Walmart and other retail chains. Plus, the Lithia project and a few others have helped our construction numbers."

Lithia Motors is building its new corporate headquarters in downtown Medford. Major projects also include Walmart in south Medford and the Northgate Centre Marketplace project in north Medford.

While Portland experienced 7 percent growth and Bend was No. 3 within the state at 3 percent, Salem saw a 13 percent loss in construction jobs, Eugene fell 12 percent and Corvallis was off 8 percent.

"This is very positive, but we have a long way to go if we are to recover the lost jobs since the boom years of 2006-2007," Oussenbec said. "In the peak months during those years, there were twice as many jobs in construction in Jackson County."

Nationwide, AGC said, construction employment has suffered in part because Congress has yet to pass a highway and transit bill to replace one that expired more than three years ago.

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

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