County unemployment rate remains stagnant

As the local jobless rate lingers in double digits, there is a parallel trend that may continue even if unemployment numbers fall in the coming months.

Jackson County's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 10.3 percent in February barely moved from January's 10.4 percent mark, but was a bit more improved compared with the 10.8 percent from February 2012.

Compared with last year, however, the local workforce has declined more than 2 percent, down to 97,838 from 100,220.

"It's a trend we're are seeing around the state and nationally as well," said Guy Tauer, a regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department. "We haven't seen a decline in (Jackson County's) population and the overall population is growing; we don't know exactly where those people are going."

This February workforce numbers are similar to those of 2005, when the economy was going full bore, said Tauer. They peaked at 102,634 in 2009, after the real estate bubble burst and a credit crunch hit the banking system.

"It's been in a slow decline since," Tauer said. "It's still a pretty tough economy and some of the jobs lost during the Great Recession aren't coming back."

During February, the county's payroll employment rose by 520 jobs and over the past 12 months it has gained 690 nonfarm payroll jobs.

"We have seen estimated growth in a variety of sectors, including professional and business services and private education," Tauer said. "The private sector has shown a broad-based recovery with 950 new jobs. We haven't seen a loss in construction jobs, so it looks like we may have bottomed out in construction employment that's been in such a long-term decline."

Government jobs, however, have dwindled, he said.

Uncertainty has been a certainty in recent years, so there's no assurance hiring trends will continue and double-digit unemployment will end.

"We're getting close," Tauer said. "But we're not quite there yet."

Share This Story