County unemployment hits 17%
For Crook and Deschutes counties, the movement into Phase 2 of COVID-19 reopening in Central Oregon moved the needle for the regional labor market. The unemployment rate across the region improved slightly in May as many workers on temporary layoff began getting called back to work.
But that wasn't the case for Jefferson County, which had "a large layoff event in May, resulting in a significant increase in the unemployment rate from April," according to regional economist Damon Runberg.
In Jefferson County, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 17% in May, up from 14.5% in April. Jefferson County was one of only a handful of counties in the state to post a significant unemployment rate increase in May. The rate remains up significantly from this time last year, when it was 5.1%.
The unemployment rate rose due to continued job losses from Jefferson County businesses in May. Total nonfarm employment dropped by 130 jobs in May. The monthly losses were concentrated in manufacturing, which dropped 180 jobs from April.
Over the past year employment remains down by 1,270 (-18.8%). Jefferson is among the hardest hit counties from COVID-19 layoffs. Manufacturing posted the largest job losses over the past year (-310), followed by leisure and hospitality (-300).
In Crook County, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 17.5% in May, down from 18.3% in April. The number of employed workers rose by 251 in May from April. The unemployment rate remains up significantly from this time last year, when it was 5.3%.
Total nonfarm employment rose by 100 jobs for Crook County businesses. Although the county added jobs, the number of jobs added was fewer than economists would expect this time of year during normal economic conditions.
Compared with this time last year, total nonfarm employment remains down by 790 jobs (-12.9%). Nearly every major industry sector posted job losses over the past year, with the exception being information (+20 jobs). The largest losses continue to be seen in leisure and hospitality (-260); construction (-140); retail trade (-100); and manufacturing (-90).
In Deschutes County, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 16.3% in May, down from 18.3% in April. An additional 3,068 workers were employed in May compared with April. The rate remains significantly higher than this time last year, when it was 3.9%.
Deschutes County added 1,680 jobs in May on a seasonally adjusted basis. Roughly 11% of the jobs that were lost in April were added back in May.
Total nonfarm employment remains down by 13.9% from this time last year (-12,120 jobs). The largest losses continue to be seen in leisure and hospitality, down 6,160 from last year (-45.6%). Other hard hit sectors include professional and business services (-1,470 jobs); local government (-1,460 jobs); health services (-810 jobs); and retail trade (-750 jobs). After a dip in April, construction rebounded with employment levels roughly the same as this time last year.
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