Douglas County unemployment in January increased to 5.8 percent from 5.4 percent in December according to the latest Oregon Employment Department numbers. From last January, the unemployment rate increased from 5.3 percent.

The monthly change reflects seasonal shifts in retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and transportation, warehousing and utilities. The total employment decreased by 710 jobs over the month.

Regional Economist Annette Shelton-Tiderman said she is watching the “little bump-up” in the January rate but she isn’t worried about it. She said she tries to judge employment numbers by three months or a year to really see trends.

“Leisure and hospitality, you’re in the dead of winter,” Shelton-Tiderman said. “Motels will cut back on their crew, restaurants typically do layoffs this time of year. The transportation also has a little seasonal component to it. You’re looking at very typical seasonal variations.”

Since November 2016, the unemployment rate has not been above the current 5.8 percent or gone below 5 percent according to the employment departments historical data.

“Our economy is very seasonal,” Shelton-Tiderman said. “If I look at the same month every year, I can see changes.”

The data follows the underperformance of the nation expected job growth. Analysts expected a gain of about 175,000 jobs, according to MarketWatch, but only 20,000 were added. It was the 101st straight month of job gains, but the weakest report since September 2017.

The Hampton Inn, the largest hotel in Douglas County, has even employment throughout the year according to manager Allen Pike, and didn’t see the seasonal shift that is reflected in the report.

“In prior years, we would staff up in the summer and staff down in the winter due to the dramatic change in business we would see based on the season,” Pike said in an email. “Here at the Hampton, during the week, we are as busy now as we were in the summer. The weekends are slower, but not enough that we need fewer people during the winter than during the summer.”

Janelle Polcyn can be reached at jpolcyn@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow her on Twitter @JanellePolcyn.

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Business reporter

Janelle Polcyn is the business reporter at The News-Review, graduated from the University of Texas, and is a podcast enthusiast.

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