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Construction has been the fastest growing major industry sector over the past year

Central Oregon's employment situation improved in August with hiring exceeding normal seasonal expectation by a modest amount. There was more robust improvement to the unemployment rate with all three counties posting a statistically significant decline from July.

Jefferson County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.3% in August, down from 6.8% in July. The unemployment rate remains higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020 when it was 4.1%.

Total nonfarm employment was unchanged in August. There are typically modest job losses this time of year. As of August, employment levels remain down only 2.2% (-150 jobs) from the pre-COVID peak in February 2020.

Construction has been the fastest growing major industry sector over the past year, adding 40 jobs (+28.6%). The retail sector (+70 jobs) and manufacturing (+90 jobs) also posted strong gains from this time last year.

Crook County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.8% in August, down significantly from 7.1% in July. The unemployment rate remains higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020 when it was 4.4%.

Crook County added 70 jobs in August, stronger job gains than what is typical for this time of year. Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment in August was roughly 1.9% (+130 jobs) above the pre-COVID peak in February 2020.

The strong monthly hiring in August was concentrated in local government (+30 jobs). No major industry sector added more than 10 jobs in August. The fastest growing industry over the past year was in construction, where employment grew by 16.0% from last August. There was also fast growth from this time last year in manufacturing (+11.5%) and professional and business services (+10.7%).

Deschutes County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 5.4% in August from 5.6% in July. The unemployment rate remains higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020 when it was 3.3%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that Deschutes County lost 270 jobs in August, fairly typical losses for this time of year. According to these estimates, total nonfarm employment remains down by 3,850 jobs from the pre-COVID peak (-4.3%). However, it is important to note that employment levels were only around 2.6% below the pre-COVID peak in March 2021 (the most recent benchmarked month). Revisions to recent Bend-Redmond MSA data will be released later this fall.

Employment gains over the last year are widespread with significant gains in financial activities, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, and local government. However, these estimates show a decline in employment for professional and business services and leisure and hospitality over the past year. Both those losses, particularly losses in leisure and hospitality, are questionable as the industry has posted record hiring demand this summer.


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