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 December, all three central Oregon counties’ nonfarm payroll employment grew at healthy rates, but slower than Oregon’s statewide job growth rate of 4.3%. Crook’s grew at 3.2% (230 jobs); Deschutes’ at 2.2% (1,950); and Jefferson’s at 1.5% (100).

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Oregon continued to tick up in December, though still remains very low at 4.5%. For context, Oregon’s 10-year unemployment rate average is 5.3%. The three Central Oregon county’s unemployment rates have each increased since July 2022, but remain historically low. Crook’s unemployment rate is at 6.0% (10-year average is 7.4%), Deschutes’ at 4.4% (5.7%) and Jefferson’s at 5.9% (6.8%).


Topic of the Month: Age of the Workforce

Roughly 23% of employees in Central Oregon were 55 years or older in 2022, according to the Census’ Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI). This is nine percentage points higher than in 2002 when only 14% of employees were 55 years or older. Employment share for people ages 54 or younger have decreased significantly during the same time period. Employment share for people 25-54 years old declined from 71% to 65%; the share declined from 15% to 12% for those younger than 25.

This demographic shift in the workforce has been fueled by a few main reasons. The Great Recession (2007) decreased employment of people younger than 25 more than other age groups; boomers, the second largest generation, are aging; and the Oregon birthrate has slowed considerably in since the late 1990s.


Good Reads

Study: Oregon makes top 10 states spending the most on rent,” by John Ross Ferrara, KOIN.

Oregon Households Struggling with Housing Costs” and “New Housing Under Construction,” by Josh Lehner, Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.

Portland State expert [Marisa Zapata] says Gov. Tina Kotek’s housing plan is a good first step, but she’ll need help,” by Dave Miller, Oregon Public Broadcasting.

What a Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Could Mean for American Workers [with Evan Starr, economist at the University of Maryland],” by Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker.

White House Aims to Reflect the Environment in Economic Data,” by Lydia DePillis, The New York Times.