Unemployment rates in Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties stayed essentially the same in May but still show marked improvements from a year ago, according to data from the Oregon Employment Department.

In Clatsop County, typically the most resilient of counties in Northwest Oregon, the unemployment rate last month was 7 percent, lower than the state (7.8 percent) and the U.S. (7.6 percent).

Total employment in the county increased by 314 from the previous month to 18,470, 516 fewer than the year before. Total unemployment fell by 101 to 1,299, 240 fewer than one year prior. The drop in both employment and unemployment points to a drop in the labor force of 756.

The county added 460 nonfarm payroll positions in May, 170 more than expected. This raised overall nonfarm payroll employment to 16,790, 30 fewer than the year prior.

The private sector gained 400 jobs in May, and government employment rose by 60. Food manufacturing added 70 jobs; transportation, warehousing and utilities added 50; leisure and hospitality added 170 jobs; and local governments added 60, as they typically do each summer.

Over the past year, the food manufacturing industry in Clatsop County cut 130 positions, while the retail trade cut 190. Leisure and hospitality was one of the best-performing industries, adding 220 jobs over the last year.

Columbia County’s unemployment rate of 8.3 percent in May was also unchanged from the previous month but a precipitous drop from the same point last year, when unemployment there nearly reached 10 percent. The county still suffers higher rates of unemployment than Oregon and the U.S.

Total employment in the county rose by 16 to 21,821, 160 less than the year prior, and the number of unemployed people climbed by 76 to 1,950, 291 fewer than the year prior. The drop in both employment and unemployment yielded a drop in the labor force of 451.

The county added 150 nonfarm payroll positions in May, 70 more than expected, leaving the overall figure at 9,690. The private sector added 130 jobs, and government employment increased by 20. Construction and retail trade each added 30 jobs; leisure and hospitality added 40; and local government education added 30.

Total nonfarm employment in May was up 40 from the year prior. Professional and business services was one of the more successful industries, adding more than 90 positions, while hospitality added more than 60. Paper manufacturing, which lost 80 positions, cut the most over the last year.

Many Columbia County residents commute elsewhere for work, so it is not uncommon for the total number of employed people residing in the county to change without a similar change in the number of payroll jobs located within the county.

In Tillamook County, the 7.5-percent unemployment rate in May was unchanged from the previous month and nearly 1.5 percent lower than the year prior. The county suffers a similar rate of unemployment as the U.S. and a lower rate than the Oregon.

Total employment in the county rose by 173 from the previous month to 11,418, 36 fewer than the year prior. Total unemployment dropped by 53 to 856, 166 fewer than the year prior. The drop in both employment and unemployment yielded a decrease in the labor force of 202.

A gain of 120 nonfarm payroll positions was expected in Tillamook County in May, but it gained 160, leaving overall nonfarm payroll employment at 8,130, 70 more than the year prior. The private sector added 110 jobs, and government employment climbed by 50. Leisure and hospitality grew by 50 jobs; food manufacturing added 30; and other industries experienced minor changes.

Industries that added the most jobs over the last year included private education and health services with more than 60 and manufacturing and construction each with more than 40.

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