County's jobless rate rises to 5.6% in June

Jackson County employers added 440 workers to their payrolls in June, primarily seasonal increases in accommodations, food services and recreational activities.

Nonetheless, the end of school last month added more than 1,000 people for a total of 102,557 in the work force. Though 1,290 jobs were added in a wide variety of industries, the unemployment rate rose.

The Employment Department reported Thursday that June's jobless rate climbed to 5.6 percent from May's 5.0 percent mark. The unemployment rate in June 2006 was 5.8 percent.

"In some cases, it's just a skills mismatch where people don't have the skills to take certain jobs," said Guy Tauer, a regional economist with the Employment Department. "If you've got the right skills and are employable, then there are a lot of options.

"I've heard from both sides, from employers who say it's hard to find workers and from others who say it's hard to find jobs for teenagers," Tauer said.

Either way, he said, Jackson County's job growth rate outpaced its neighboring counties in recent months.

In June, construction employment increased by 60 jobs, leaving the gain also at 60 for the last 12 months. Manufacturing posted a 50-job increase in June, for a gain of 240 jobs since June 2006.

Those gains can be traced to the opening of Amy's Kitchen last year.

Employment fell by 110 in retail trade, leaving the year's gain at 100 new jobs. Tauer said higher interest rates and gas prices have made for slow sales at some retail operations and that slows employment growth.

"One thing I see is a pretty tight labor market, with unemployment levels trending toward historical lows," Tauer said. "In some of the faster growing fields, even in entry level retail trades, there are lot of options out there. Employers who don't pay as well, or have more demanding shifts or more physically demanding jobs will find it harder to fill positions when the rate is like it is now."

Health care and social assistance showed a rare loss in jobs, dropping by 20 in June, but over the past 12 months employment in that area is still up by 140.

Accommodations and food services posted a gain of 360 jobs in June and during the past year, leisure and hospitality added 330 jobs, the largest gain of any sector.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or at

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