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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow County's jobless rate exceeds state average


County's jobless rate exceeds state average


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The Oregon Employment Development Department created a report about the jobs outlook for Eastern Oregon as well as the rest of the state.

The report was presented last week to members of Baker County’s Economic Development Commission. 

Overall “it wasn’t total gloom and doom,” said Craig Ward, chairman of the commission, of the report that offered information about the recent past and projections reaching to the end of the decade.

A significant portion of Eastern Oregon’s recent job losses are seasonal, and the numbers should rebound as businesses gear up for busier periods, Ward said.

Here are some of the statistics compiled by Andrew Crollard, the EDD’s Workforce analyst:

Baker County’s unemployment rate was higher than the state average in December: 11.3 percent compared to the 8.9 percent. Baker County’s rate was similar to the state average through much of this past summer, and lower than the state average during a significant portion of 2010.

November 2011 was somewhat better than November 2010 in Baker County, with a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 9.2 percent versus 10 percent the previous year. The county’s civilian labor force grew by one person, to 7,689, but the number of people working went from 6,921 to 6,978.

The level of improvement wasn’t as good when compared to that of the entire state using those same two months.

Overall in Oregon, the jobless rate dropped from 10.5 percent in November 2010 to 8.4 percent in November 2011.

As for the longer-range forecast, state officials expect Baker, Union and Wallowa counties will combined add 2,000 jobs from 2010 through 2020. 

This would be 11 percent growth — from 18,130 to 20,130 jobs. Virtually all sectors will increase, with the greatest expansion in professional and business services, manufacturing, health and education services, and natural resources and mining.

The only anticipated decrease will be in information jobs, which are expected to decline by 14 percent. 

Baker-Union-Wallowa is projected to have some of the lowest jobs growth levels in the state. Coos and Curry counties are likely to grow at the same pace while Grant, Harney and Malheur are expected to add only 9 percent more jobs through 2020.

Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties are projected to grow in payroll employment by 21 percent, more than in other parts of the state.

Why (or why not) hire

Fewer than two in five employers across Oregon surveyed by WorkSource during the fall of 2011 said they plan to hire new workers within six months. Nearly 5,700 employers from across the state participated.

Just 32 percent of employers in Eastern Oregon plan to hire during that period.

The economy was the reason most often cited by employers — 51 percent of them — as why they had no plans to expand their number of workers short term. Specific causes cited include the recession (37 percent), tight credit (4 percent), slow housing market (4 percent), inflation (32 percent) and high fuel costs (1 percent).

Only 14 percent of the respondents said they weren’t hiring because of a government-related reason: taxes (6 percent), regulations (4 percent), minimum wage (4 percent), health care (3 percent), state budget cuts (3 percent) and Measures 66 and 67 (1 percent).

Other reasons cited are work being seasonal (13 percent), adequate staffing already (11 percent), lack of qualified applicants (5 percent), and minimal or no employee turnover (3 percent).

Statewide through 2020, there will be nearly 350,000 additional jobs paying less than $33,000 a year (in wages at the 2011 level). There will be more jobs paying at least that much — nearly 400,000 of which will pay at least $50,000. Slightly more half of those jobs will range in pay from $33,000 to $49,999.

High-growth areas in Oregon

Wondering what types of careers would need the most workers? Health care specialities are expected to dominate through 2020. Several construction occupations also are near the top but employment in these jobs is expected to remain below the levels that existed before the recession.  

Anticipated need in the Baker-Union-Wallowa area through 2020 includes various jobs that involve production; health care; construction and extraction; farming, fishing and forestry; office and administrative support. These areas have large job pools and high average growth percentages, though specific needs can vary greatly depending on the type of job within the category.

Similar reports are provided to the group a few times each year, Ward said.


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