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County outpaces state’s job rate

January 24, 2018 GMT

Lane County added jobs last month at a faster pace than Oregon as a whole, the state Employment Department reported on Tuesday.

The county had an estimated 5,600 more nonfarm jobs last month than December 2016, according to the department’s monthly employment report.

That 3.5 percent job growth over the previous December was higher than the state’s 2.6 percent growth in the same month-to-month comparison, according to the report by Brian Rooney, a Eugene-based labor economist with the department.

“It was an exceptionally strong job growth month for December,” he said in an interview.

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Helped by the robust economy, the number of estimated nonfarm jobs in December in Lane County reached 165,000, an all-time monthly high, according to the report.

The figure is based on a monthly survey of businesses by the Employment Department.

December was the third consecutive month that Lane County had set a record for estimated nonfarm jobs.

Meanwhile, the county’s unemployment rate in December dipped to 4.2 percent, from a revised figure of 4.3 percent in November, the report said.

The county’s jobless rate in December was “significantly lower” than the December 2016 rate of 4.7 percent, Rooney wrote.

In December, 7,481 people were unemployed in the county, a decrease of 277 from November and 511 from December 2016, according to Employment Department figures.

The Employment Department calculates the unemployment rate based on the number of people in Lane County drawing unemployment benefits — which requires them to seek work — and a survey of households by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Among private employers in December, professional and business services added 500 jobs, and education and health care employers bolstered employment by 400 jobs, the report said.

Retailers added 100 jobs as part of seasonal hiring, according to the report.

A seasonal loss of 200 jobs occurred in construction, the report said.

Compared to the previous December, the largest job gains in the private sector were in private education and health services (up 1,000); retail trade (up 600); professional and business services (up 500); and construction (up 500), according to the report.

Private sector over-the-year losses occurred in information, (down 100), and nondurable goods manufacturing (down 100), the report said.

Overall government employment gained 2,200 jobs last month compared to the previous December.

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Most of the gain — 2,100 — came from hirings in local education, including the University of Oregon, public school districts and Lane Community College, Rooney said.

“Local education numbers can be pretty volatile from month to month,” he said, partly because the results of his department’s monthly employment surveys can vary widely, especially if they are taken while schools and colleges are on winter break.

Non-education local government increased by 200 jobs last month, compared to December 2016, Rooney said.

Those gains were reduced by a loss of 100 federal government jobs, he said.

Follow Ed Russo on Twitter @edwardrusso . Email ed.russo@registerguard.com .