Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rogue Valley Economic Update

Jackson and Josephine counties, once dominated by agriculture and wood products, have experienced structural changes to their economies over the past two decades.

Strong retail, health care, and tourism sectors in Jackson County have formed a regional hub, attracting customers and visitors from neighboring counties. In the recession of 2000 to 2001, Jackson County’s economy experienced a less severe downturn than other areas of the state, including the Portland metro area. Between 2002 and 2007, after years of above average job growth, Jackson County’s nonfarm employment growth rate returned to the statewide average. Job losses started occuring in the county sooner than at the statewide level during the current recession, but the total decline in employment has been less severe.

Josephine County's concentration in health care, construction, and manufacturing helped spur impressive employment growth during the past decade. However, the area's employment growth began to slow much sooner than the state's due to the current recession: the county posted a 4.6 percent growth rate in 2005, 2.3 percent in 2006, and 1.2 percent in 2007. Josephine County's significant employment in wood products and housing-related manufacturing was severly impacted by the housing crisis.

In 2008, the county's unemployment rate stood at 9.0 percent, compared with 6.4 percent statewide. The average wage in the county was about $29,500 in 2008 - roughly 89 percent of neighboring Jackson County's average wage and 74 percent of average wages statewide.

For more information about economic activity in the Rogue Valley, read this article, written by local Workforce Analyst Ainoura Oussenbec, or contact Regional Economist Guy Tauer.

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