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Broad-based job gains continue in Jackson County

It took a long time for Jackson County employment to regain its footing following the Great Recession. Since then, the local economy has seen steady job creation.

Over the past 12 months, county employers have added 2,820 positions, a 3.3 percent gain from July 2017. Statewide, job growth has been 2.4 percent over the past year.

“It bounces around, but overall nonfarm employment has trended upward between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent since 2013,” said Guy Tauer, a regional economist for the Oregon Employment Department.

While many regions of the country were dusting off the recession by 2011 and 2012, it took longer for Southern Oregon to shake of the economic doldrums.

“Job growth was flat in 2011 and 2012,” Tauer said. “But we started turning the corner in 2013.”

After a period when population growth was flat, the region picked up and has yet to ease up.

“That population growth has really driven investment into the area, responding to demand for goods and services,” Tauer said. “In contrast, Coos County, and other small rural counties where unemployment rates may be low, may have a fairly tight labor market. But they are not seeing a population influx.”

July’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 4.4 percent, down from 4.8 percent a year ago. Neighboring Josephine County saw unemployment drop to 5.2 percent from 5.5 percent a year ago.

“The U.S. economy is on the long end of recovery,” Tauer said. “It took longer to get here. We were hit hard, so we had more ground to gain back.”

During the past year, private education and health services tacked on 1,750 new jobs, partially because home health workers were reclassified from state employees. Leisure and hospitality picked up 860 jobs, construction employment gained 770 positions, manufacturing added 210 paychecks, and wholesale trade added 200 employees.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or gstiles@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

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