Jobless rate in county climbs to 12.8 percent

Employment statistics in Jackson and Josephine counties grew slightly worse in August.

Jackson County's seasonally adjusted unemployment figure was 12.8 percent in August, up from 12.7 percent in July, while Josephine County's jobless rate edged up to 14.3 percent from 14.2 percent.

Although the change in numbers represents just a handful of jobs, they reflect the regional economy's inability to shake off the effects of the recession.

State Employment Department figures for Jackson County show 90,051 people employed in nonfarm jobs in August, the highest total this year, and up from 88,088 in July. But those numbers pale compared with the all-time high figure of 97,710 on payrolls in November 2007.

"Things are remaining pretty slow," said regional economist Guy Tauer. "Consumers are tight-fisted with their wallets and employers are hesitant to add employees. It's a wait-and-see situation, and it appears we'll be waiting for quite a while."

Tauer noted that since August 2007, total employment in the county has dropped by 5,700. He attributed the year-over-year increase to a combination of population growth and people re-entering the labor force.

"Some have started a business and now count themselves as employed," he said.

Payroll employment rose by 380 jobs in August, with gains coming in retail trade and teachers going back to work. However, during the past year, the county is still down 650 jobs. After dipping to about 11 percent in February, the seasonally adjusted rate has remained in its present range.

Retail trade accounted for the largest gain, 200 jobs, with Medford's new Best Buy store creating more than 100 positions. Transportation, warehousing and utilities, along with professional and business services, each added 50 jobs.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or e-mail

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