Jobless rate plateaus in Jackson Co.
Jackson County's unemployment rate held steady in March, in part because of a decline in the number of people looking for work.
The latest figures compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained unchanged at 8.6 percent in February. That's an improvement over the March 2013 seasonal unemployment rate of 9.7 percent.
However, the county's workforce declined by nearly 1,200 between March 2013 and last month.
There's no indication of that many people leaving the region. Oregon Employment Department Guy Tauer attributed the drop in part to an aging population and fewer people entering the job market.
"Across the state, we're seeing fewer younger folks in the labor force," Tauer said. "People are staying in school longer. Then you have an overall aging population with the baby boomers moving into retirement. With home values going back up, some of those people who were on the fence whether they were able to retire — or could afford to retire — think it makes sense now. So we are seeing people stepping out of the labor market and retiring."
The labor force last month was 95,923, down 1,178 from the March 2013 figure.
Initial applications for unemployment benefits filed in Jackson County have edged up as well. The most recent figures, from February, showed 792 first-time applications, up from 740 in February 2013.
Retail employment declined by 220 positions; professional and business services employment fell by 200. On the growth side, leisure and hospitality added 150 positions, manufacturing increased its payrolls by 80 and health care and social assistance grew by 40 paychecks.
In Josephine County, the seasonally adjusted jobless rate ticked up to 9.7 percent in March from 9.6 percent in February. It was 11.3 percent a year ago.
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/EconomicEdge.