Economy in Central Oregon

By Jake Procino | Workforce Analyst/Economist, East Cascades | Oregon Employment Department

All central Oregon counties have fully recovered from job losses in 2020 and are in expansionary growth passing their pre-pandemic peaks. Over the 12-month span ending in October, all three central Oregon counties’ nonfarm payroll employment grew at healthy rates, but slower than Oregon’s statewide job growth rate of 4.2%. Crook’s grew at 3.7% (260 jobs); Deschutes’ at 3.7% (3,260); and Jefferson’s at 3.2% (210).

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Oregon continued to tick up in November, though still remains very low at 4.4%. For context, Oregon’s 10-year unemployment rate average is 5.4%. The three Central Oregon county’s unemployment rates have each increased since July 2022, but remain historically low. Crook’s unemployment rate is at 5.7% (10-year average is 7.5%), Deschutes’ at 4.1% (5.7%) and Jefferson’s at 5.7% (6.9%).

Topic of the Month: Homeowners and Renters Burdened by Housing Costs

More than one out of every three (550,000) Oregon homeowners and renters were burdened by housing costs in 2017-2021, according to the 2021 5-Year American Community Survey Estimates. Households that spent more than 30% of their income on housing costs (rent, mortgage, utilities, etc.) are considered to be burdened by housing costs by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Homeowners with a mortgage were twice as likely to be cost burdened (30%) as those without a mortgage (15%). The percentage is considerably higher for renters with 51% of them being burdened by housing costs.

The story is not much different in Central Oregon with an estimated 32,000 households burdened by housing costs. About one in three households in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties are housing cost burdened. That is comprised of about one in four homeowners and one in two renters.

Good Reads

Oregon Population Growth 2022,” by Josh Lehner, Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.

Wave of Job-Switching Has Employers on a Training Treadmill,” by Sydney Ember and Ben Casselman, The New York Times.

These 7 charts show how life got pricier (and, yes, cheaper!) in 2022,” by Stacey Vanek Smith, Alina Selyukh and Connie Hanzhang Jin, NPR.

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