Saturday, February 7, 2009

Central Oregon's jump in unemployment one of the worst in the nation

From the Bend Bulletin:

Deschutes County’s unemployment rate increased by 5.2 percentage points over the past year, one of the biggest jumps in the country, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released this week.
The Bend Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Deschutes County, saw unemployment increase from 6.1 to 11.3 percent from December 2007 to December 2008, the sixth biggest jump in the nation.

While the unemployment rate spiked in the past year, the county lost only 320 jobs during that time, according to state statistics. The real problem is the area’s population has grown without a commensurate increase in jobs, said Economic Development for Central Oregon Executive Director Roger Lee.
Deschutes County grew from 160,810 people in July 2007 to 167,015 in July 2008, according to Portland State University’s Population Research Center.
“We really haven’t lost many jobs at all, if you look year over year,” Lee said. “The phenomenon we’ve seen here is what happens all the time, is they move here without jobs.”
Many employers appeared to put off job cuts in 2007, hoping that the economy would turn around, said University of Oregon economics professor Tim Duy. Then last year, they couldn’t wait any longer.
“The reality began to sink in to more and more employers that this was not a short-term event, that this was a longer-term, deeper event than they anticipated,” Duy said. “They just could not resist cutting jobs further.”

Central Oregon’s fall reflects the region’s meteoric rise during the boom years, Lee said.
“It still is remarkable over a period of, say, the last eight years, something on the magnitude of 20,000 jobs were created in tri-county area,” Lee said. “We’ve come a long way. We definitely have come back to earth.”