Jobless rates low across state

January was a strong month for hiring in Portland and Jackson and Lane counties.

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January was a strong month for hiring, report officials from Portland, the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon.

Jobless rates in the state’s largest metro area fell to 6.0 percent in January, reports.

At the same time, state analysts said the metro area picked up 4,000 new jobs after adjusting for seasonal factors such as post-holiday layoffs. Those jobs come on top of 32,200 the region gained in 2014.  The metro area’s promising start to 2015 mirrors statewide and national trends. Employers across Oregon added 7,600 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent in December to 6.3 percent. 

According to, the trend reaches across other metro areas in the state.

  • Albany (Linn County): 7.6 percent, down from 8.3 percent in December.
  • Corvallis (Benton County): 5.1 percent, down from 5.4 percent in December.
  • Salem (Marion and Polk counties): 6.6 percent, down from 7.0 percent in December. 

Benton County has the lowest jobless rate at 5.1. 

Unemployment fell to 7.7 percent in Jackson County, according to the Medford Mail Tribune.

The labor force included 1,963 more people than in January 2014, with 3,756 more holding jobs, but an extra 1,793 seeking employment. After crunching the numbers, the labor bureau reported a seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 7.7 percent, following an 8.4 percent rate in December, and 8.9 percent in January 2014.

“January is typically a low point for tourism-fueled leisure and hospitality jobs,” said Guy Tauer, a regional economist for the Employment Department. “It’s a slow season for a lot of industries, and the statistics bear it out. Even the ones building momentum took a breather in January, specifically professional and business services dipped by 50. Some of the decline can be attributed to seasonal declines related to slower shipping and package delivery after the holiday season.”

In Lane County, the jobless rate is at its lowest since 2008 at 6.5 percent, the Register-Guard reports.

Lane County has had moderate but steady job growth over the past 12 months, according to the Employment Department. Lane County’s workforce also has grown since last year but, unlike the early part of the economic recovery, job growth lately has outpaced the growth in job seekers. The civilian workforce grew 1.7 percent from January 2014 to this January, to 170,321.

But nonfarm payroll employment grew by 2.4 percent, to 147,800, compared with January 2014, according to state figures, which are compiled in cooperation with the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a year-to-year basis, employment has been up every month since June 2012. The industries contributing the most to year-over-year job gains are mostly service industries, according to the Employment Department. The greatest gains compared with last year were in retail trade (up 2,000 jobs), private education and health services (up 800), wholesale trade (up 300) and construction (up 200).

Warm weather has been a boon for job seekers in Deschutes County, the Bend Bulletin reports.

Total nonfarm employment increased by 7 percent for the 12 months ending in January, according to the employment report. That translates to 4,550 jobs gained, the department reported. At the same time, the labor force grew by almost 3,500 workers. The sector that includes construction added the most jobs, 940, followed by retail trade with 820 jobs and business and professional services with 730, according to the monthly report. Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Deschutes County fell to 7.1 percent in January from 8.5 percent in January 2014. The rate stood at 7.6 percent in December, a number soon to be revised, said Regional Economist Damon Runberg, of the Employment Department.

“If you see the labor force increasing at the same time the unemployment rate is going down, it means the labor market is red hot,” he said. “It says a lot that we’re seeing the unemployment rate going down while folks are moving here.”


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