Unemployment for January jumped to 15.4 percent in Wallowa County, the highest in 11 years, as workers have a hard time finding work throughout the state, particularly in Eastern Oregon.

This is the first time the rate exceeded 15 percent since March 2001 (at 15.2, the highest rate of 2001), and the highest since 1998, when February registered a 15.8 percent unemployment and March 16.2 percent, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

Wallowa County's jobless rated tied with Klamath County as sixth highest in the state in January. Counties with higher rates were Harney (19.7 percent), Grant (19.3), Crook (18.2), Douglas (16.5), and Jefferson (16.2).

Oregon as a whole registered unemployment of 10.9 percent (9.9 percent, seasonally adjusted), while the United State's reported 7.5 percent unemployment (7.5 percent, seasonally adjusted).

A record 26 out of 36 counties in Oregon experienced double-digit unemployment in January.

The last time county unemployment in January was higher was in 1996, when the year started out with a 15.9 rate, which was topped by 17.1 in February and 17.0 in March.

A double digit jobless rate was reported during seven months of 1996, which averaged 11.1 percent for the year, the highest since 1990, when on-line data records start on the Oregon Employment Division. The record low average was reported in 2007 with a

The non-farm employment part of the report, showed that this January there were 2,210 workers employed in Wallowa County, compared to 2,280 (minus 3.1 percent) in January 2008.

Number of employees went down from the same time the previous year in the following employment sectors: mining and logging, minus 10 workers (70 current workers); manufacturing, minus 30 (120); trade, transportation and utilities, minus 50 (400); financial activities, minus 10 (140); local government, minus 10 (490).

Sectors reporting gains were professional and business services, with 20 more employees than a year ago (100 current employees), education and health services, 10 more (210); and leisure and hospitality, 10 more (180).

Showing the same number of workers were construction (with 200 employees), information (30), other services (80), federal government (80) and state government (110).

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