As C.O. jobs picture improves, number getting jobless benefits drops 60% since January

(Update: Adding more Runberg comments)

Unemployment rates still above pre-pandemic levels, but employment numbers close to pre-COVID peak

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Unemployment rates dropped across Central Oregon in June following moderate job gains, the Oregon Employment Department reported Tuesday.

The drop in unemployment rates is reinforced by the decline in the number of workers claiming unemployment benefits, Regional Economist Damon Runberg said his monthly update. The number of residents claiming benefits in Central Oregon has dropped each month this year, and was down by 60% in June from levels in January.

Runberg said in Deschutes County, for eample, the peak number of jobless claim recipients was 8,281 a year ago and has “dropped pretty consistently, until the winter wave/extreme COVID risk levels.”

The winter peak was 3,749 workers on unemployment insurance, in January. It’s dropped each month, reaching 1,505 in June, he said.

Also regarding Deschutes County, Runberg told NewsChannel 21, “I continue to be convinced that the recovery is running faster than these estimates from the BLS (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) imply.

“We just got the payroll tax records through March (these monthly estimates will be revised with those payroll records for the July report),” the economist said. “The good news is that those tax records show that Deschutes County added  1,340 MORE jobs between January and March, compared to the initial estimates.  Also, the big drop in the number of workers on unemployment benefits implies that workers are going back to work far faster than the U-rate is showing.” 

Here are the county reports for June:

Crook County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.4% in June, down slightly from 7.6% in May. The unemployment rate remains higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020, when it was 4.4%.

Crook County added 120 jobs in June, a marginally slower pace of hiring than typically expected this time of year. Total nonfarm employment in June was roughly equivalent to the pre-COVID peak in February 2020.

Monthly job gains were concentrated in leisure and hospitality (+40 jobs); however, employment levels remain down by 130 jobs from June 2019. There was also modest growth in professional and business services; construction; federal government; and state government. Much of this growth was typical seasonal hiring.

Deschutes County (Bend-Redmond MSA): The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate ticked down to 5.9% in June from 6.1% in May. The unemployment rate remains higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020, when it was 3.3%.

Deschutes County added 1,710 jobs in June, which exceeded normal seasonal expectations by around 300 jobs (+0.4%). After these job gains in June, employment levels in Deschutes County remain down 5% (-4,500 jobs) from the pre-COVID peak in February 2020.

Job gains in June were concentrated in retail trade (+590 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+490 jobs); and construction (+130). These are industries that typically add jobs this time of year. In fact, the leisure and hospitality sector continues to underperform typical seasonal hiring despite employment levels being down over 18% from levels in June 2019.

It is important to note that these estimates are preliminary and subject to revisions. In fact, these estimates will be revised next month with payroll records through the first quarter of 2021.

Jefferson County: The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.8% in June, down slightly from 7.0% in May. The unemployment rate remains higher than before the first impacts from COVID-19 in February 2020, when it was 4.1%.

Total nonfarm employment rose by 80 jobs in June, fairly typical hiring for this time of year. Employment levels remain down around 1.4% (-100 jobs) from the pre-COVID peak in February 2020.

Monthly job gains were concentrated in leisure and hospitality (+30 jobs); Indian tribal government (+30 jobs); and retail trade (+20 jobs). The job gains in leisure and hospitality have largely matched seasonal expectations the past several months with the industry struggling to recover from the pandemic.

Next Press Releases

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the July county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, Aug. 24 and the statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for July on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

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