When it comes to jobs in Wallowa County , every little bit helps, and the latest unemployment figures from the Oregon Employment Department indicate that slow gains are being made on the job front here.

Wallowa County's unemployment in July was 8.6 percent, the first time the county has reported a less than double digit rate in 2010. June's unemployment was 10.2 percent.

This July's report shows 58 more jobs than July 2009 when the rate was 8.9 percent. However, despite the slight improvement, July employment rate for those two months were still the highest in 20 years.

The months of July, August and September are the county's traditional period of lowest unemployment.

July's 8.6 percent rate reflects 344 workers without jobs out of a total labor force of 4,003 or 3,659 persons employed.

Despite the slight improvement in the overall employment rate, the picture doesn't look so good in the "Nonfarm Payroll Employment" section of the state's July report for Wallowa County. While all sectors are better job-wise than June, the comparison from July 2009 shows 50 fewer jobs - 2,540 compared to 2,590 a year ago. Mining/logging, construction, and manufacturing all showed a loss of 20 jobs, while wholesale and retail trade, professional/business services and leisure/hospitality were down by 10 jobs. The only gains over last July were in education/health services, by 10 jobs, and government by 20 (10 each at the federal and local levels).

Oregon's unemployment rate for July was 10.6 percent, while the nation as a whole reported 9.7 percent.

In Oregon, the highest rate in the state, 13.8 percent, was in Douglas County, and the lowest, 6.0 percent, in Wasco County.

Even though Wallowa County's July rate was near a record high, most other counties in the region had an even higher rate.

Unemployment in other Eastern Oregon counties in July was as follows: Union, 9.5 percent; Umatilla, 9.1 percent; Morrow, 8.3; Baker, 9.0; Grant, 10.9 percent; Harney, 13.0.

Monthly unemployment in the county for the first half of 2010 is: January, 15.2 percent; February, 15.8 percent; March, 16.6 percent; April, 14.0 percent; May, 11.4 percent; June, 10.2 percent; and July, 8.6 percent. The rates in all months except June were slightly lower than the same months in 2009.

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