Local manufacturing sector loses 80 jobs
Union County’s manufacturing and construction industries in May recorded their largest job losses in at least seven years, according to a report from the Oregon Employment Department.
The manufacturing sector, which includes recreational vehicle makers, shed 80 jobs between April and May of this year.
Records dating back to 2001 show no losses to match May’s number, though in September and October 2006 the industry did sustain consecutive losses of 60 and 70 jobs.
The employment department does not release information about specific companies or individuals applying for unemployment benefits.
However, the news about the manufacturing job losses coincides with reports of layoffs at Fleetwood and Northwood manufacturing, recreational vehicle makers that operate plants in the La Grande area.
On May 9, Fleetwood laid off 17 workers at its facility in rural La Grande. On June 13, the company announced it was cutting 60 jobs in its plants at La Grande and Pendleton.
Northwood, a locally owned company at the Union County Airport industrial park, has refused comment on layoffs.
But in May, reports received from other sources said that about 30 Northwood jobs were cut.
With gas prices rising to more than $4 a gallon, sales of recreational vehicles nationwide have fallen an estimated 20 percent to 25 percent. Fleetwood said it laid off workers in an effort to match output with market demand.
Between May 2007 and May 2008, manufacturing dropped a total of 130 jobs.
Total nonfarm employment in Union fell by 260 jobs from May 2007 to May 2008. The construction industry is the other employment sector seeing heavy losses, the employment department said.
Construction dropped 80 jobs between May 2007 and May 2008. Between April and May of this year, the industry shed 20 jobs.
The county’s overall May unemployment rate was 6.2 percent, down slightly from April’s 6.6 percent. In May 2007, unemployment stood at 4.6 percent, the lowest rate Union County saw in any month since the summer of 2000.
The department said no sizable gains have countered losses in the manufacturing, construction and state government sector. In May of this year — usually a time of healthy payroll increases — employment totals barely budged.
In Wallowa County, unemployment fell moderately in May. The estimated jobless rate was 7 percent, down from 8.4 percent in April.
Total nonfarm employment grew by 120 jobs for the month, but stood 60 jobs short of the total recorded in May 2007.