BEND, Ore. -

There was widespread improvement to unemployment levels across the High Desert in June after several months of stagnation, the Oregon Employment Department reported Monday.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in Central Oregon are at their lowest levels since the summer of 2008.

Hiring was up in Crook and Deschutes counties, both outpacing the statewide job growth over the past year. Meanwhile, employment levels in Jefferson County are down compared to this time last year.

Crook County: There was a significant decline in Crook County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month. The rate dropped to 10.3 percent in June from 10.6 percent in May.

The unemployment rate is now at its lowest level since the summer of 2008. Over the past year, the unemployment rate is down two percentage points (12.3%).

Total nonfarm employment rose by 160 jobs in June, a typical gain for this time of year.

Crook County continued its streak of steady job gains this spring and summer. Monthly gains were spread across a variety of industries with private-sector growth anchored by transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+40). Job losses were limited to wholesale trade, which shed around 10 jobs from May.

Over the past year, job growth in Crook County was the third-fastest of Oregon’s 36 counties with employment levels up 4 percent or 230 jobs. Educational and health services led job growth from last June, adding 60 jobs.

Other industries with significant growth include wholesale trade (+50) and wood product manufacturing (+40). Losses were concentrated in leisure and hospitality (-30) and professional and business services (-30).

Deschutes County (Bend MSA): After several months of stagnation, Deschutes County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate improved in June. The rate dropped to 8.1 percent in June from 8.3 percent in May.

Unemployment levels are significantly lower than this time last year, when the rate was 9.5 percent.

Preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the Bend metropolitan area show an increase of 1,310 jobs in June, which is greater than the gain of 1,200 jobs typically expected this time of year.

Hiring in tourism-related industries accelerated in June as we approach our peak tourism season. Leisure and hospitality grew at a sizzling pace, adding 880 jobs in one month.

Meanwhile. retail trade added 160 jobs. There were no private-sector job losses in June.

Job growth in Deschutes County remains among the fastest of Oregon’s metropolitan areas, only trailing the Portland area.

The county added 1,950 jobs from last June, a gain of 3 percent. Jobs are up across almost all major industries.

The largest job gains were seen in Leisure and hospitality (+440); educational and health services (+400); and local government education (+270). The only noteworthy over-the-year employment losses were in accommodation and food services (-130) and professional and business services (-60).

Jefferson County: Seasonally adjusted unemployment levels declined in Jefferson County, down to 9.4 percent from 9.6 percent in May. The unemployment rate saw a significant reduction from last year when it was 10.6 percent.

Jefferson County gained 100 jobs in June, less than the typical gain of 190 jobs this time of year. These seasonally adjusted losses can largely be attributed to a decline in educational and health services (-30), as well as weaker hiring in leisure and hospitality (+40) and retail trade (no change).

Compared to last year, employment levels are down 1.3 percent (-80 jobs), one of the largest declines in the state. The overall decline in nonfarm payroll employment is due to large losses in educational and health services (-50) and local government (-80). Manufacturing continues to be the bright spot in Jefferson County, adding 80 jobs from last June.

These estimates will be revised as new data from businesses becomes available. The next Central Oregon Employment Situation with preliminary data for July 2014 will be released on Monday, August 18th.

Hood River County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June at 5.2 percent. Harney and Curry counties (10.7%) registered the highest rate for the month.

Thirteen of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 6.8 percent and eight were at or below the nationwide rate of 6.1 percent.

Crook County saw the largest improvement in its unemployment rate over the year with a drop of 2.0 percentage points.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in four of Oregon’s six broad regions between June 2013 and June 2014. The largest job gains occurred in the Willamette Valley (2.2%) and Central Oregon (+1.9%).