Jackson County jobless rate up slightly in April

Jackson County's unemployment picture remained basically unchanged in April, about double what it was a year ago.

The Oregon Employment Department said Tuesday the county's seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 13.9 percent in April, compared to 13.7 in March.

Gloomy, yes, but not a lot worse.

"You can use the analogy of downhill skiing," said regional economist Guy Tauer. "We're no longer on the black diamond slope, we're now in the blue square. We're declining, but not at as fast a pace as six months or a year ago. The silver lining is that we haven't had further announced layoffs like we were hearing three to six month ago."

Jackson County payroll employment actually gained 180 jobs during April. However, over the past year, payroll employment fell by 3,340.

In April 2008, the county's unemployment rate was 6.8 percent.

Manufacturing employment declined by 100 jobs, and that sector has shrunk by 900 jobs over the past year. Construction employment showed little change in April, and is now 740 jobs behind the April 2008 total, Tauer said. Retail trade declined by 40 jobs over the month, and 810 jobs have been lost during the past 12 months.

"We're not likely going to see the seasonal construction increases we've seen in past few years," Tauer said. "The leading indicators, building permits, don't point to a rebound in the construction sector."

He said employment department job listing are up from winter lows.

Seasonal leisure and hospitality employment led to the gain of 150 jobs, 60 of those in accommodations and food services. However, leisure and hospitality employment is off by 290 over the past year.

"It's hard to tell the difference between seasonal hiring versus new job creation," Tauer said.

A number of industry sectors added jobs in April. Financial activities added 40 jobs over the month, but total employment stands at 50 jobs below one year ago. Professional and business services gained 50 jobs over the month, and showed a slight gain over the year.

Meanwhile in Josephine County, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly to 15.5 percent, roughly double the 7.8 percent figure in April 2008.

Payroll employment rose by 110 jobs in April, with seasonal hiring in leisure and hospitality accounting for most of the rise. During the past year, payroll employment in Josephine County fell by 1,000 jobs.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.

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