County employment unchanged in March
The employment situation across Central Oregon generally improved in March. Unemployment rates changed little, and hiring stayed near or above seasonal norms.
For Jefferson County, the unemployment rate was unchanged over the past year. The rate of 5.6 percent in March matched the rate posted at that time last year, and was essentially unchanged from 5.7 percent in February.
Jefferson County added 40 jobs in March, which was close to what would typically be expected that time of year.
Payroll employment levels grew by 140 jobs (up 2.3 percent) over the year. Job growth was fairly diverse, with moderate gains in a variety of industries, but relatively strong growth in manufacturing (up 60 jobs).
Growth in health care has largely been inflated by home health care workers being reported in private health care beginning in 2018. Previously those workers were counted in state government.
In Crook County, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was essentially unchanged in March at 6.1 percent, compared with 6.2 percent in February, and 6.0 percent in March 2017.
Crook County businesses added 100 jobs in March. Construction showed the largest gain, with an increase of 30 jobs.
Employment levels dropped a modest 70 jobs from the same time last year (down 1.2 percent). Crook County was one of only five Oregon counties to post job losses over the past year. Much of the decline in total nonfarm employment occurred in government. Private-sector industries added 130 jobs over the year, while government lost 200 jobs.
The growth in health care over the year largely reflected the change of counting home health care workers in private health care, rather than state government. Even excluding that change, all levels of government still cut payroll jobs over the year.
In Deschutes County, the Bend-Redmond municipal service area, the unemployment rate remained at 4.2 percent in March. The rate increased slightly from 3.7 percent in March 2017.
Deschutes County added 940 jobs in March, more than typically expected that time of year. March marked the 19th consecutive month of seasonally adjusted job gains in the Bend metropolitan area.
Payroll employment growth remained significantly higher over the year, with businesses adding around 3,210 jobs (up 4.1 percent). The rate of job growth has hovered around 3 to 4 percent for most of the past year.
The county continues to see hiring from all private industry sectors. Construction growth continued its strong trend, leading all sectors and adding 790 jobs (up 13.2 percent) over the year.
Growth in health care has been largely inflated by a change in home health care workers being counted in private health care. Until 2018, those workers were counted in state government.
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the April county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, May 22, and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data on Tuesday, May 15.