County's jobless rate dips slightly

Despite a slight dip in the unemployment rate in June, Jackson County's work force continues to grow, far outstripping employers' ability to create new jobs.

The Oregon Employment Department Monday reported the number of people working or seeking work in Jackson County hit 104,663 last month, a 2.7 percent jump from the 101,932 figure reported in June 2007.

As a result, the 570 jobs added in June didn't put much of a dent into the county's jobless rate. The state reported a slight decline in the county's unemployment rate last month to a seasonally adjusted 13.7 percent from 14 percent in May. That compares to 7.3 percent in June 2008.

"I would like to see the same thing happening next month," said Ainoura Oussenbec, a work force analyst with the Employment Department, conceding the slight shift could be within the margin of statistical error. "A second month of numbers like that would indicate the bottom has been reached. Looking at one month compared to the next month, I would be very cautious."

Oussenbec suggested that growing unemployment in the past year actually has increased the work-force numbers.

"When one partner in a family is laid off, the other who might have been staying at home is now forced to go out and look for work," Oussenbec said.

Despite gains in construction, retail trade and leisure and hospitality last month, Jackson County lost 3,540 jobs, a decline of 4.3 percent, over the past 12 months.

"Even though there were some job gains in construction (along with) leisure and hospitality, they were relatively small compared with the gains we saw two years ago," Oussenbec said. "The hope is the trend will continue through the rest of the summer and then the year-over-year numbers will improve, too."

In June, construction added 120 jobs, but stands at 840 jobs below the year-earlier total. Retail trade gained 110 jobs over the month but declined over the year, dropping 750 jobs since June 2008.

Leisure and hospitality showed the largest gain since May, kicking in 240 jobs. State government added 60 positions, financial activities and local government saw gains of 40 jobs, and professional and business services saw 20 additional hires. Education and health services saw small declines.

For the 12-month period, manufacturing was down 950 positions, while leisure and hospitality payrolls were down 320. Despite a slow June, educational and health-services employment was up by 90 jobs during the past 12 months.

Over in Josephine County, the jobless rate dipped marginally to 15.3 percent in June, from 15.6 percent in May. The June 2008 figure was 7.8 percent.

Josephine County payroll employment picked up 60 jobs in June as seasonal hiring in construction and leisure and hospitality accounted for most of the increase. Gains also were noted in other services and state government jobs. Over the year, payroll employment decreased by 1,240 jobs, or a decline of 4.9 percent.

Reach Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or

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