Jackson County's jobless rate in May dropped to its lowest point since December 2008.

Jackson County's jobless rate in May dropped to its lowest point since December 2008.

Though the 11.1 percent unemployment figure is roughly double what it was during the mid-2000s, the slow descent continues a trend that began in mid-2009.

The Oregon Employment Department reported Jackson County's total payroll employment grew by 1,070 jobs in May, with gains in most sectors. Regional economist Guy Tauer reported a year-over-year gain of 520 jobs.

The county's 75,220 nonfarm workers were at the highest level since last December's 76,240 total.

The latest figures show a hefty decline in federal employment, but Tauer attributed it to 2010 Census hiring, which cycled through the system a year ago.

"Federal employment peaked last May and trended down through the summer," Tauer said. "By September those jobs were gone."

The weak 0.7 percent job growth would have been stronger were it not for the loss of the Census jobs.

Construction showed a modest increase of 60 jobs in May, but there were still 170 fewer people employed in the sector than one year ago.

Retail trade employment rose by 190 jobs in May, and boasts the largest over-the-year increase, up by 420 jobs.

Leisure and hospitality posted the largest employment gain in May, up by 270 jobs, nearly all of those in accommodations and food services.

In Josephine County, employment grew and the work force declined over the past year, helping to lower the seasonally adjusted jobless rate to 12.1 percent.

Unemployment was 14.3 percent a year ago.