Seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates for January, released on Tuesday, show that the mid-Willamette Valley’s economy remains strong, according to figures released by the Oregon Employment Department.
“Unemployment remains low statewide and locally, and both areas have continuing job growth, in particular with Linn County,” said Patrick O’Connor, state regional economist.
Benton County’s rate dipped to 2.9 percent, down from its revised rate of 3.1 percent for December. Once again, this was the lowest mark in the state.
Linn County’s rate edged up to 4.6 percent in January, up from 4.4 percent the previous month. “That’s still very low,” O’Connor said.
Oregon’s statewide unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent in January.
Both Linn and Benton counties have faster job growth than the national rate of 1.6 percent over the last year.
Linn County added 1,450 jobs in the last 12 months for a 3.3 percent increase. Benton County added 1,040 job for a 2.5 percent increase in the same time period.
Oregon’s job growth in the past year is at 2.9 percent.
“All the local growth has been on the private sector side of things, certainly over in Corvallis,” O’Connor said.
He added that construction has been a sector that has thrived lately, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering all of the building activity around the area.
The mid-Willamette Valley’s employment surge has put it far beyond employment figures from a decade ago, before the recession hit.
Linn County now has 45,350 workers, roughly 1,800 or 4.1 percent above its pre-recession employment peak in February 2008.
Benton County now has 43,360 workers, about 4,370 or 11.2 percent above its pre-recession employment peak in November 2007.