June 26, 2002 11:00 pm

Unemployment figures for Union and Wallowa counties are the lowest they have been in seven months, according to the latest report from the Oregon Employment Department.

The Union County rate was below the national average.

The Union County unemployment rate was down to 4.8 percent of the workforce for May, the latest month for which figures are available.

The last time it was lower was in October, when it was 4.3 percent.

In Wallowa County, the rate for May was 9.9 percent, the lowest since the 6.6 percent in October.

For the months of January through April, Wallowa County's rate was in double digits, including the 17 percent rate in March.

The local figures compare to the statewide rate of 7.3 for May.

The national unemployment rate for the same month was 5.8 percent.

In actual numbers, the number of unemployed persons in Union County fell from 823 to 592 while the workforce total actually rose from 12,267 to 12,368 from April to May.

In Wallowa County, there were 488 people unemployed in April, and that fell to 319 for May.