Jobs report yields surprise for Central Oregon

Service positions down, professional jobs rise

C.O. adds professional jobs

BEND, Ore. - Here on the High Desert, we're known for our tourism, and lots of jobs catering to our guests.

But 2013 was a different type of year.

"We're showing a shift and a diversification away from some of the things we've relied upon in the past," Economic Development for Central Oregon Executive Director Roger Lee said Monday.

State Employment Department Regional Economist Damon Runberg said, "Tourism-type jobs were actually the ones that didn't have the greatest job growth over the last year." 

"Leisure and hospitality was the only industry to have a significant loss over the year," he said.

But  Runberg sees positives in the numbers.

"(The year) 2013 can really be characterized by some of these more robust, full-time industries gaining jobs, and that's what's really been the most exciting," Runberg said.

The December job report, released Monday by the Oregon Employment Department, shows Deschutes County added about 900 positions last year in professional fields like business, education and health.

Runberg said these jobs tend to be full-time, and higher-paying.

In contrast, one of the region's perennially strongest industries,  leisure and hospitality, actually dropped about 170 jobs over the past year.

Runberg said you can blame that one on Mother Nature.

"Most likely due to the fact that our winter tourism season is lackluster due to lack of snowfall," he said.

Still, Deschutes County's unemployment dropped to 8.9 percent -- the lowest since before the recession.

Crook and Jefferson counties' unemployment rates also fell.

"Manufacturing is one of the fastest-growing industries right now in our rural communities," Runberg said.

He also said private expansion and growth spurred in the latter part of 2013 is leading our job recovery regionally.

"It didn't really accelerate until this fall and early part of winter, and at this point,  there's no point that we're slowing down," Runberg said.

Runberg said Deschutes County has had the fastest job growth rate in the metro areas of our state.

However, the county's unemployment rate is nearly 2 percent higher than the state's average.

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