BEND, Ore. - Central Oregon's economy ended 2013 on a positive note, with unemployment falling to levels not seen in over five years and hiring on the rise, the state Employment Department reported Monday.
The Bend Metropolitan Statistical Area (Deschutes County)'s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent in December, the first time unemployment was below 9 percent since August of 2008.
Crook County's rate dropped to 11.2 percent, a drop of 2.3 percentage points from last December.
Jefferson County dipped to 9.9 percent. Nationally, unemployment declined in December to 6.7 percent.
Oregon's rate declined to 7 percent, the lowest level in over five years.
Asked about the persistent worry that the numbers are only dropping because people have given up seeking work, Central Oregon Regional Economist Damon Runberg reviewed statewide data and told NewsChannel 21 it shows "there are nearly as many Oregonians unemployed as there are who are working part-time, but wish to be working full-time."
While the number of unemployed in Oregon is dropping quickly, Runberg says that's not associated with a big jump in the number of "marginally attached" (mostly discouraged) workers, "perhaps dispelling the myth that all the drop in unemployed is due to these folks becoming discouraged.."
Here's the details behind the numbers as compiled by Runberg:
Crook County: Crook County's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 11.2 percent in December, down from 11.6 percent in November. The unemployment rate has not been this low since September 2008. Over the past year, the county experienced a sharp drop in its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from 13.5 percent in December 2012.
The county lost 70 jobs in December, which was fewer than the loss of 100 jobs expected this time of year.
Job losses over the past month were concentrated in seasonal industries, such as construction (-20); federal government (-20); and leisure and hospitality (-10).
The private-sector continues to lead the jobs recovery, gaining 300 jobs from last December. Over-the-year government shed 40 jobs, primarily from local government (-30). Private-sector job growth was spread across a variety of industries with the largest gains in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+80); wholesale trade (+60); and professional and business services (+40).
Deschutes County (Bend MSA): Deschutes County's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (8.9%) dropped below 9 percent for the first time since the summer of 2008. The rate dropped from November when it was 9.1 percent. Over-the-year, the unemployment rate fell from 10.4 percent in December 2012.
Preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the Bend metropolitan area show a decrease of 300 jobs in December. This represents a seasonally adjusted gain of 140 jobs. Monthly losses were concentrated in seasonal industries that would typically see declines this time of year, such as mining, logging, and construction (-250) and accommodation and food services (-120). Significant gains were seen in educational and health services (+110) and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+70).
Over-the-year job gains continued in December, with the county up 1,680 jobs from last year. Professional and business services posted the largest over-the-year gains adding 540 jobs followed by retail trade (+450) and educational and health services (+360). The only significant losses were seen in leisure and hospitality (-170).
Jefferson County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased in December to 9.9 percent, down from 10.1 percent in November. Over-the-year, Jefferson County's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped from the December 2012 rate of 11.9 percent.
Jefferson County lost 30 jobs in December when a loss of 100 jobs would typically be expected this time of year. Job losses were in leisure and hospitality (-20) and construction (-10), these losses are expected this time of year.
Over the past year, employment is up 230 jobs in Jefferson County. Manufacturing is responsible for a majority of these gains, up 150 jobs. Significant job gains were also posted in leisure and hospitality (+60) and retail trade (+40). Private-sector jobs losses were concentrated in wholesale trade (-40) and professional and business services (-20).
A code change occurred in January 2013 where a firm was moved from local government to educational and health services. Due to this change a series break was created in total private, government, local government, and educational and health services. 2012 monthly figures in these industries are not comparable to 2013 monthly estimates.
These estimates will be revised as new data from businesses becomes available. The next Central Oregon Employment Situation with preliminary data for January 2014 will be released on Monday, March 10th.