Deschutes County — in the high desert of Central Oregon — has seen explosive growth in the past five years. Also known as the Bend metro area, the county is a popular destination for recreationists, big-city transplants and retirees. Since 2001, its population has expanded more than 17%, boosting the local economy by almost 11,000 jobs, second in Oregon only to the Portland area’s gain of 16,000. Bend’s rapidly growing industries include construction, financial activities, professional and business services, educational and health services, and retail trade. Along with big job gains, the area is seeing its lowest unemployment levels in recent history. Many local employers are having difficulty finding qualified and experienced workers. The area’s rising cost of housing doesn’t help. A recent study by Central Oregon’s Housing Works found that the region will need an additional 9,460 housing units for blue- and white-collar workers by 2008 in order to keep up with the demand for labor.
— Steve Williams, regional economist
Oregon Employment Department
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