Unemployment rates rose across Central Oregon in January, and the rate was 4.7 percent in Deschutes County, the Oregon Employment Department reported.
Deschutes County’s unemployment rate was 0.5 percentage points above January 2018. The rate also jumped significantly in one month, from 4.4 percent in December.
“We’re not seeing layoffs driving the unemployment rate up,” said Damon Runberg, Central Oregon economist for the state Employment Department.
Rather, the people who are in the job market are taking longer to find jobs, he said.
Half of all unemployed people in Oregon are new to the labor market, Runberg said. Many of them are either recently graduated students or new arrivals to the state, he said.
That indicates a slowing economy, rather than a declining economy, where people who’ve been working in Oregon suddenly find themselves unemployed, Runberg said.
In Crook County, the unemployment rate rose from 5.9 percent in December to 6.3 percent in January.
The recent rate is essentially the same as January 2018, 6.4 percent.
Unemployment in Jefferson County rose from 5.5 percent in December to 5.9 percent in January. The rate was 5.7 percent this time last year.
The rise in unemployment rates over a single month might not be as dramatic as they appear now, Runberg said.
The state is due to issue revisions to 2018 figures later this month, he said.
The revisions could show that unemployment rates in 2018 were not as low as previously thought, he said.
The state on Tuesday also issued revisions to Central Oregon’s 2018 payroll-based job numbers.
“Crook County has been doing better than we had been saying,” Runberg said.
Employment levels in the county were 1.9 percent higher last year than in 2017. Previous estimates showed employment down by 0.5 percent.
The change was driven by a new accounting of jobs at one wholesale company.
A large number of the jobs that had previously been counted in Deschutes County were in Crook County, Runberg said.