Wallowa County had an estimated jobless rate of 8.2 percent in November 2004, up moderately from the revised October 2004 figure of 5.7 percent, according to Jason Yohannon of the Oregon Employment Department in La Grande. November's labor force estimates show 3,058 employed and 273 unemployed local residents.

The local unemployment rate now exceeds the statewide average, following four agreeable months of below-average joblessness. "Expect Wallowa County's unemployment rate to continue rising in each of the next few monthly reports," Yohannon said.

This month's employment summary table includes a big minus 160 in total nonfarm payroll employment, with downward trends in most industry line items. That's a bit weaker than usual for Wallowa County, but employment still surpasses last year's tally, he said.

With 11 out of 12 months of data already compiled, it's become progressively more likely that 2004 will wind up being a growth year for Wallowa County's job market. However, the annual average increase from 2003 to 2004 isn't likely to be very large, Yohannon said.

Oregon's 2004 job growth stalled in the latter part of the year. Nevertheless, for the most recent 12-month span, the state added 36,300 nonfarm jobs, a 2.3 percent increase. By comparison, the national nonfarm job growth rate was 1.6 percent for the same period.

Oregon's 7.1 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in November 2004 was about the same as it's been for the past 10 months. Among the 50 states, Oregon ranked second highest in November, trailing Alaska by a mere one-tenth of 1 percent.

Nationally, recovery has been slow, but it's been real, Yohannon observed. As of November 2004, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.4 percent, tying August and September 2004 figures for the lowest jobless rates since 2001. Seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment was 132,075,000 in November 2004, also the best showing since 2001.

Unemployment Rates

November 2004

Baker County 7.7%

Grant County 10.6%

Harney County 8.0%

Malheur County 6.6%

Union County 6.0%

Wallowa County 8.2%

Oregon 6.7%

United States 5.2%

Seasonally adjusted:

Oregon 7.1%

United States 5.4%

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