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Unemployment continues to drop in Jackson County

Shoppers walk past businesses in downtown Jacksonville. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
County posted 5.2% unemployment rate in August

The unemployment rate continues to drop in Jackson County as more people return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county’s unemployment rate fell to 5.2% in August, according to a new report on jobs and unemployment by the Oregon Employment Department.

Unemployment in Jackson County peaked during the pandemic at 14.1% in March 2020 amid widespread business closures and safety restrictions meant to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The county hasn’t yet returned to the economic conditions that preceded the pandemic, when unemployment reached the unusually low figure of 3.4% in December 2019.

The August 5.2% unemployment figure was recorded before the end of federal unemployment benefits that added $300 weekly to state unemployment benefits. Those federal benefits ended for most beneficiaries in early September.

Statewide, the unemployment rate dipped to 4.9% in August after spiking to 13.2% in April 2020.

Among metro areas in Oregon, the Medford area ranked in the middle of the pack with its 5.2% unemployment figure for August. The Medford metro area covers all of Jackson County.

The Corvallis area had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.8%, followed by the Portland and Salem areas at 4.9%, the Albany and Bend areas at 5.4% and the Eugene area at 5.5%. The Grants Pass area fared worst with 6% unemployment in August.

Compared to a year ago, Jackson County has gained jobs in almost all areas, including construction, retail, health care and social assistance, hotels and restaurants. The state and local governments added jobs locally, but the federal government lost jobs, according to the Oregon Employment Department report.

In addition to helping a broad range of people get back to work, the Oregon Employment Department said it’s reaching out to unemployment claimants who have health care experience to let them know about job openings in their field.

The health care system in Oregon remains under strain from a COVID-19 surge that began this summer.

The Employment Department has scheduled a statewide virtual Hiring Heroes for Health Care event from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, so job seekers can explore career opportunities and meet employers hiring across Oregon. To register for the event held via the free Zoom videoconference service, visit zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJIscOqpqjwjHutbrk5fAAxTq3RBhkh9Es0.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.