A shrinking labor force continued to keep a lid on the jobless rate in Jackson and Josephine counties.

A shrinking labor force continued to keep a lid on the jobless rate in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Jackson County had 2,808 fewer people in the labor force during June than a year earlier.

While there 630 fewer people employed than in June 2013, there were 460 more on payrolls last month than in May, providing for an 8.5 percent seasonally adjusted jobless rate compared with 8.7 percent in May and 9.5 percent a year earlier.

For those with jobs, the average work week has extended to 35.7 hours, according to the latest government figures, up from 32 hours during 2009 when the Great Recession was taking its greatest toll.

"Hours are increasing," said Guy Tauer, a regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department.

"It shows there's not as rapid of an erosion of full-time jobs and a shift to part time; employers are squeezing more hours out of the employees they have."

Tauer said retail and service industry jobs still tend to be part-time heavy, but other sectors are picking up here and there.

"You can view it as a leading indicator as employers have to meet demand for production," he said. "You reach a certain point and they will eventually do more hiring."

The largest job sector increase spotted by the BLS was in leisure and hospitality, where 380 jobs were added over the month.

Tauer said lumber and wood products activity has increased, giving overall manufacturing numbers a boost.

"Construction hasn't shown much growth, but quarterly data looks stronger and I think we're going to see upward revisions and July data will reflect that," he said.

In Josephine County, the labor force fell by 670 people year-over-year, but there were 270 more people on payrolls in June than in May and 350 more than in June 2013.

Josephine County's seasonally adjusted jobless rate declined to 9.7 percent in June from 9.9 percent in May and 11 percent a year earlier.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.