HRC tied for lowest unemployment rate

Hood River County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was little changed in March, falling by 0.1 percentage point over the last month to 5.5 percent, but was good enough to rank as Oregon’s lowest county rate, tied with Benton County, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

Compared with March 2013, Hood River County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by 0.9 percentage point.

For industry employment, the winter recreational season thawed in March, with arts, entertainment and recreation cutting 110 jobs in Hood River County, dropping its total to 840. The changing season did, however, bring job growth to retail trade (+20) and food services and drinking places (+20). Local government education led the public sector with a gain of 10 jobs, increasing its total to 1,110.

Hood River County’s nonfarm employment total rose by 90 jobs over the year ending in March. Government landed in the minus column, with local government education and state government each cutting 10 jobs.

Manufacturing led Hood River County’s private sector, rising by 110 over the year, followed by wholesale trade’s 40 job gain. Professional and business services dropped 90 jobs over the year and arts, entertainment and recreation cut 40.

Regionally, the five-county area that makes up Region 9 were all in the top 10 for lowest unemployment rates out of Oregon’s 36 counties, with the exception of Wheeler, which was ranked 11th.

Besides Hood River, all counties’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in the five-county region either remained unchanged or rose slightly over the past month. Wasco County led the region in employment, adding 110 nonfarm jobs in March.

Statewide, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage point in March to 6.9 percent. Compared with March 2013, Oregon’s unemployment rate fell by 1.1 percentage points over the year.

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted monthly job gain of 7,500 in March was the largest since November 2005 when 9,300 jobs were added.

Construction shot up by 1,800, following a gain of 1,300 in February. Leisure and hospitality bounced back from a one-month dip, adding 2,100 in March. In addition, five industries added close to 1,000 jobs: retail trade (+1,200 jobs), financial activities (+900), professional and business services (+1,200), private educational services (+800), and health care and social assistance (+1,400).

The only industry showing a large loss in March was wholesale trade, which shed 1,000 jobs.

The rapid job growth in recent months may be pulling people back into the labor market. Nearly five years into this economic recovery, rapid gains in construction employment and an end to overall government job declines have lent support to more broad-based economic expansion.

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