Crook County unemployment levels hit near record high

The latest information puts Crook County's 7.6 percent unemployment among the state's highest, with the statewide posting at 6.5 percent
Unemployment rates rose in all three central Oregon counties in October, the latest figures from the state Employment Department shows. Of the three, Jefferson County had the lowest rate of unemployment, 5.2 percent, followed by Deschutes at 5.5 percent and Crook County's 7.6 percent.
   Crook County suffered another layoff hit when Clear Pine Moulding reduced its workforce by 37 employees. These were mostly entry-level positions and the layoff was blamed on a steep decline in orders.
   October's unemployment rate for Crook County was one of the highest in the state, topped only by Morrow (7.7%) and Harney (9.5%) counties. Seven other Oregon counties had unemployment rates in the seven percent range.
   Statewide, October's unemployment rate was 6.5 percent, an increase of a tenth of a point from the 6.4 percent September rate. The October rate is at its highest level since November 1993, when Oregon's unemployment rate was also 6.5 percent.
   The state Employment Department analysts report that the October labor market data are the first to reflect broadly the impact of the terrorist attacks of September 11. The US unemployment rate posted a substantial rise from 4.9 percent in September to 5.4 percent in October.
   In October, the department's report states, 109,500 Oregonians were unemployed. This is a good indication of how fast the state's economic downturn has hit many citizens. In October 2000, the number of unemployed totaled 75,300, a rise of about 34 percent in the past 12 months.
   In October, the state Employment Department surveyed its field office managers about locally hard-to-fill positions. The following is the list for southern, central and eastern parts of the state.
   Openings for RNs and CNAs are hard to fill in nearly every field office that reported.
   Truck driver is an occupation in demand and while truck drivers appear to be more available east of the Cascades, there is still a shortage of truckers willing to take long-haul jobs.
   Journey-level trade positions are hard to fill in many areas of the state. However, it should be stated this does not necessarily mean there is a shortage of these workers, in many cases, employers are not able to attract these workers outside of their respective unions.
   Experienced ranch hands are hard to find because of the lack of entry-level jobs.
   Baker, cake decorator, HVAC mechanic, and banking jobs lack available skilled workers.
   Restaurant cook and clerical jobs are hard to fill due to the low wages and lack of benefits available in these occupations.
   Landscaper and telephone technician positions are also hard to fill because of a lack of qualified applicants.
   Unemployment benefits
   For the month of November, the Oregon Employment Department distributed 268,308 checks for unemployment benefits totaling $65,805,260. As might be expected, more than 42 percent of those payments go to residents of Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties.
   Of those receiving benefits in November, 64% were male (43,596) 36% female (24,047); 81% where white (55,045), the next largest racial group were Asians (2,886); 28% were between the ages of 35-44 (18,764), 26% between the ages of 25-34 (17358), and 24% between the ages of 45-54 (16,082).
   Valuable job search resource
   Currently more than 3,600 job openings are listed on the Oregon Employment Department's Web site In November, the Web site received more than seven million hits. The most hits ever on the site occurred in October when 7.6 million hits were registered.