The number of people employed in Jackson County crested at 98,000 in October.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, 4,686 more people worked here last month than in October 2015. That helped push the seasonally adjusted jobless rate to 6.3 percent, down from 6.6 percent in September and 6.9 percent a year earlier. The raw unemployment figure was 5.4 percent.
While those figures don't differentiate between full- and part-time employment, Guy Tauer, a regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department, expects to see the number of people working rise for at least one more month.
"Retail hasn't gone up super-fast, but we're up 400 over the year," Tauer said. "There's been no one particular store adding a lot to the total, but the Northgate Marketplace expansion has been contributing to the growth."
Organizations that track online help-wanted adds showed there were 4,000 posts in July and August.
"That's a fairly high help-wanted count," Tauer said. "We don't have a huge labor pool right now, so we don't exactly have people with the right skills to fill every position that could be filled."
That element is something that will soon draw attention from Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc.
"We have consistently heard from all the traded sector companies (whose goods and services are sold outside the area) that they continue to struggle to find people to fill their jobs," Executive Director Colleen Padilla said.
The economic development agency is gearing up for a survey to find out how skill levels match up with what training and education are presently provided at the community college level and other job preparation arenas.
In other cases, there are better seasonal offers attracting workers to different temporary jobs, she said.
During October, private educational and health services employment rose by 130 over the month, with 100 positions in the health care and social assistance area and the remainder in private educational services. Business and professional services added 100 jobs from September, but remained unchanged over the year.
Manufacturing fell by 20 positions in October, and construction dropped 50 jobs. As is common, the largest drop was in leisure and hospitality, which saw 370 jobs eliminated as tourism season ended. About half of the decline was in accommodations and food services.
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.