Jobless numbers don’t add up


New figures show local unemployment rates falling across Oregon, contradicting December’s statewide rate which increased slightly.

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New figures show local unemployment rates falling across Oregon, contradicting December’s statewide rate which increased slightly.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment fell in all six metro areas and 33 of Oregon’s 36 counties, even though December’s seasonally adjusted statewide rate increased to 10.6%.

The contradiction apparently stems from different methods used to adjust unemployment rates for seasonal fluctuations. Economists calculated the statewide rate using a new “smoothing” technique that treats numbers with the industrial strength of a hair-straightening formula to even out trend lines. The old technique, applied to the local December figures, will be retired by federal officials beginning with the January report.

But are the old-fashioned stats, in their last gasp, revealing an important turn in Oregon’s recovery that the new method smoothes over? If so, the state could finally be shaking a jobless rate that has been stuck for 14 months in the 10.5 percent range.

Read more at OregonLive.com.

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