Jackson County payrolls up from 2014

Nearly 2,500 more people earned a paycheck in Jackson County during November than a year earlier.

Even if folks couldn't land a dream job, they were finding one.

Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers released Tuesday by the Employment Department showed 94,646 people were on Jackson County payrolls, up from 92,171 in November 2014. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 6.8 percent, down from 7.1 percent in October. Private sector employment grew 4.1 percent during the past 12 months, with construction growing 9.1 percent.

Express Employment owner Nikki Jones, who supplies employers with temporary workers, said many companies couldn't fill all the seats in their offices during the run-up period to the holidays.

"We had companies that have never called upon us for holiday labor asking for assistance," Jones said. "Many businesses are feeling the reduction in (the unemployment rate) and in the number of people they need in order to conduct business."

"E-commerce businesses and call centers driven by holiday sales needed help," Jones said. "We work with companies that distribute imported products, and they were increasing the numbers as well."

The hires were generally entry level, but with fewer candidates employers felt the pressure.

"Some folks who normally filled the holiday jobs found full-time work elsewhere and weren't available for companies like Harry & David," she said. "With more companies hiring, everyone was feeling the gap between the need and who's available."

Retail trade had the largest estimated rise, up by 870 jobs over the month. Government employment swelled by 280 positions. Health care and social assistance picked up 50 spots and wholesale trade grew by 40. Leisure and hospitality, however, shed 410 employees.

The closing weeks of a year usually show little significant hiring activity, she said.

"There weren't any real surprises," Jones said. "Typically at this time of year, companies are coming to the end of their labor budgets and squeezing out what they can across all industries. Employers are trying to stabilize labor costs because of what they have to put into their product. Labor doesn't have to be a fixed cost, so if you need to bring in temporary help for contracts, you wait until next year to start."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31

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