Jackson County saw a slight improvement in its jobless rate, but the seasonally adjusted figures compiled by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics remain in double-digits.
With total payroll employment picking up 750 jobs in December, the unemployment rate reported Wednesday by the Oregon Employment Department was 10.3 percent, modestly better than November's 10.6 percent mark and solidly better than the December 2011 figure of 11.2 percent.
During 2012, the county added 3,080 nonfarm payroll jobs.
Holiday seasonal hiring in retail trade again accounted for much of the monthly employment gain, but it also proved to be a year-round strength. Retail trade saw 540 more positions in December, and during the past year employment in the sector grew by 11.1 percent as it produced 1,540 additional jobs.
That, noted regional economist Guy Tauer, was enhanced by the openings of retailers such as Trader Joe's, REI, Petco, Ulta and Sleep Country in the Northgate Centre Marketplace in Medford.
He said another factor affecting the December estimates is the timing of the seasonal hiring in retail trade. In 2011, retail trade employment peaked in November.
Additional job growth during December occurred in health care and social assistance, which added 180 jobs. Manufacturing eked out an increase of 110 jobs over the month. Local government saw a decrease of 170 jobs, while construction employment fell by 40 over the month.
Tauer said the Medford Metropolitan Statistical Area added 3,080 jobs during the year, a 4.1 percent gain, primarily in manufacturing, retail trade, health care and social assistance, and leisure and hospitality.
The only private-sector industries to show declines over the year were information, and the professional and business services area.
Neighboring Josephine County saw its seasonally adjusted jobless rate come in at 11.6 percent in December, down from 11.8 percent in November and 11.9 percent a year earlier.
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.