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Jefferson County remains at 5.5 percent unemployment, while Crook County improves to 5.8 percent.

PIONEER LOGO - Unemployment in Jefferson County remained at 5.5 percent in April.The employment situation was largely unchanged over the past month in Central Oregon, following the statewide trend. The pace of job growth continues to slow and unemployment levels remain at or near historically low levels.

Jefferson County remains same

For Jefferson County, the unemployment rate remained largely unchanged over the past month and year at around 5.5 percent, above the statewide average of 4.1 percent.

Jefferson County added 90 jobs in April, which was fewer than what would typically be expected this time of year.

Recent revisions revealed that payroll employment levels are growing at a slower pace than initially estimated. The employment situation is mostly unchanged from this time last year, with the county only adding around 20 jobs.

Manufacturing (up 70) and construction (up 30) posted the largest employment gains over the past year. There were notable job losses in retail trade and professional and business services, each sector losing 30 jobs from last April.

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.

Crook County rate

There was a subtle drop in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April in Crook County, down to 5.8 percent from 6 percent in March. The rate is little changed from this time last year, when it was 6.1 percent.

Crook County businesses added 140 jobs in April — stronger hiring than typically expected this time of year with construction and leisure and hospitality both posting large monthly gains.

Recent revisions revealed that the employment situation in Crook County over the past year is doing better than initially estimated. Total nonfarm employment is up by 160 jobs from this time last year (up 2.8 percent). Job gains were spread across most major industry sectors with the largest gains in leisure and hospitality (up 50); wholesale trade (up 50); information (up 40); and construction (up 30).

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.

Deschutes County unchanged

In Deschutes County — the Bend-Redmond municipal service area — the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.2 percent in April.

Unemployment levels remained largely unchanged over the past year.

Deschutes County added 660 jobs in April, significantly fewer than typically expected this time of year. The slower than expected seasonal hiring in April is not particularly concerning, as the county posted stronger than expected seasonal job gains the past few months.

Payroll employment growth is continuing to show signs of slowing over the past year. The county added 2,590 jobs since April 2017 (up 3.2 percent); rates of growth ranged between 4 to 5 percent last year.

Construction continues to lead the way, adding more than 900 jobs in the past year (up 14.7 percent). The slower rate of job growth is not due to job losses as every major private industry sector posted job gains over the past 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.

Oregon unemployment

Oregon's unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in March and April. For 16 consecutive months, the rate has been close to 4.1 percent, its lowest level since comparable records began in 1976. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent in April, from 4.1 percent in March.

In April, Oregon's nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 2,900 jobs, following a revised gain of 5,000 jobs in March. That was Oregon's first monthly job decline in 16 months. The last decline was in December 2016.

In April, three major industries declined by more than 1,000 jobs. Retail trade dropped by 2,500 jobs, following a gain of 2,400 in March. Health care and social assistance cut 1,400 jobs in April, following a gain of 800 during the prior two months. Professional and business services declined by 1,100 jobs and is now down 2,200 since its peak of 244,900 jobs in November 2017.

Meanwhile, seven of Oregon's major industries added jobs in April, led by leisure and hospitality (up 600 jobs) and construction (up 500).

Over the past few years, Oregon's economy gradually decelerated, from very rapid growth a few years ago, to moderate growth over the past year. In the past 12 months 29,600 jobs were added, which is a gain of 1.6 percent.

That rate of growth is a slowdown from the more rapid expansion during the prior few years when Oregon's job gains peaked in mid-2015 at 3.7 percent.

Oregon's annual job gains have been above 1.6 percent since March 2013. Oregon had been adding jobs at a faster pace than the U.S., but now is growing jobs at the same pace as the nation, since U.S. jobs also expanded by 1.6 percent during the past 12 months.

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