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More people are working in Jackson County

Jackson County employment continued to show strength, even in the post-holiday period.

January figures compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show year-over-year improvements both in raw and adjusted jobless rates. The seasonally adjusted figure, which takes into account the ebb and flow of holiday hires and other changes throughout the year, dropped to 4.4 percent in January, from 4.6 percent in December and 4.7 percent in January 2017.

The raw unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, up from 4.2 percent in December, but lower than 5.4 percent in January 2017.

Total civilian employment, which sailed over 100,000 in December, settled back to 98,992 in January. From the beginning of 2017 to January, there were 3,697 more people holding jobs in the county than the previous year, marginally outstripping labor force growth, which expanded by 3,578 people.

A variety of employers pared back, as usual, in January. Retail dropped by 1,830 positions, month-over-month. Still, the net gain from a year earlier was 350.

Leisure and hospitality declined by 170 over the month but still provides 240 more paychecks than in January 2017. The same is true for construction, where there was a monthly decline of 150 positions, but an annual gain of 400 jobs.

Health care and social assistance gained 690 jobs in January, pushing the year-over-year gain in that sector to 1,350 additional employees. But Guy Tauer, a regional economist with Oregon Employment Department, noted the increase was primarily due to a category change.

“Prior to January 2018,” Tauer said, “home care workers were counted in state government, for unemployment insurance purposes. A legislative change resulted in the jobs now being included in the private health care and social assistance industry.”

The ripple effect contributed to the state government employment tally, dropping by 760 in January.

During the past year, the county gained 2,810 payroll jobs, a growth rate of 3.4 percent, led by private education and health services.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.