BEND, Ore. -

The pace of job growth continues to slow across the High Desert, sending unemployment rates ticking upward a bit in March, the state Employment Department reported Monday.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, all three Central Oregon counties experienced job losses and a slight increase in their unemployment rates, the agency said.

Crook County’s March unemployment rate was 10.9 percent. Employment levels remain lower in Deschutes (8.5%) and Jefferson counties (9.7%). Nationally, unemployment levels remained unchanged at 6.7 percent, while Oregon’s rate was at 6.9 percent.

Crook County: Crook County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.9 percent in March, essentially no change from 10.8 percent in February. Still, unemployment levels are down from their year-ago rate of 12.8 percent.

The county gained 30 jobs in March, which represents a seasonally adjusted loss. The county would typically gain 40 jobs this month.

Crook County experienced slow job growth in March. Employment gains were concentrated in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+20). Seasonal employment gains were seen in federal government (+10). We will likely see an acceleration of spring seasonal hiring in April and May.

Over-the-year employment growth was slower than the rest of the state. Employment is up 1.5 percent or 80 jobs from March 2013, whereas the state grew by 2.8 percent over-the-year. Employment gains are concentrated in the private-sector highlighted by professional and business services gaining 40 jobs from last year.

Moderate growth continues in wood product manufacturing (+20); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+20); and educational and health services (+20). Losses were concentrated in construction, which shed 20 jobs from March 2013 and federal government (-20).

Deschutes County (Bend MSA): Deschutes County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent in March, a modest increase from the February rate of 8.4 percent. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10 percent in March 2013.

Preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Bend metropolitan area show an increase of 230 jobs in March; a gain of 520 jobs would typically expected this time of year.

Gains were concentrated in private industries. Leisure and hospitality headlined job gains (+140), followed by professional and business services (+50), and information (+30). Losses were seen in local government education (-50); financial activities (-30); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-20).

Over-the year employment growth continued to slow in March. Employment was up 2.5 percent or 1,530 jobs from last March.

The pace of job growth in Deschutes County was slower than the statewide growth for the first time in well over a year.

Professional and business services lead over-the-year job growth (+440). Strong growth was also seen in educational and health services (+360); accommodation and food services (+290); and retail trade (+290).

Jefferson County: There was a slight uptick in Jefferson County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March. The rate was 9.7 percent, compared to 9.6 percent in February.

Over the year, Jefferson County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped from the March 2013 rate of 11.2 percent.

Jefferson County gained 10 jobs in March when a gain of 30 jobs would typically be expected this time of year. The employment picture was little changed in March with no industry posting significant employment gains or losses from February.

As with the rest of Central Oregon, over-the-year employment growth slowed in March. Employment is up 220 jobs or 3.9 percent from this time last year.

Private-sector growth continues to be carried by manufacturing, gaining 130 jobs form March 2013. Moderate growth was also seen in Indian tribal (+20), State government (+20); and retail trade (+20). Losses were limited to mining and logging, as well as, construction, each shedding 10 jobs over-the-year.

These estimates will be revised as new data from businesses becomes available. The next Central Oregon Employment Situation with preliminary data for April will be released on Monday, May 19th.