Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Douglas County’s Employment Decline Moderates

Like most areas of the country, Douglas County's employment levels have dropped dramatically during what has been characterized as the worst recession since the Great Depression. Although employment levels are well below the peak reached in 2007, there are signs that the drop is at least moderating.

Douglas County's seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment had its recent peak at 40,060 in July 2006. After a period of relative stability, employment began to drop in earnest in late 2007. Not coincidentally, residential building permits in the western U.S. began to decline in late 2007, causing a decline in wood products, Douglas County's largest manufacturing industry.

Between late 2007 and early 2009, employment was in continuous decline. Losses in durable goods manufacturing contributed to a drop in manufacturing of 1,260, or 23 percent, between September 2007 and September 2009. These losses affected the entire local economy, causing losses in retail trade and services.

Correspondingly, seasonally adjusted unemployment rates increased during the recession, going from a low of 7.2 percent in May 2007 to a high of 18.0 percent in May 2009.

Since the beginning of the second quarter of this year, employment levels have stabilized and have varied in a range between 35,500 and 35,900 from March through September... Seasonally adjusted building permits for residential construction in the western U.S. have crawled back to 120,000 from a low of 101,000 in February.

The State of Oregon's most recent official economic forecast calls for job growth to turn positive in the first half of 2010. And, although the recovery is expected to be anemic, Douglas County should follow suit with some difference in timing and magnitude.

This local area update was written by Brian Rooney, the regional economist for Douglas County.

No comments: