Oregon Unemployment remains low

SALEM — The percentage of unemployed Oregonians continues to be the lowest it has been since 1976, according to the Oregon Employment Department. The state is at 3.3% unemployment as of January 2020, .3% lower than the national average of 3.6%.

The state's unemployment rate has been declining since January 2019, which reported 4.2% of Oregonians were unemployed. The state continued it's decline in the number of people not working throughout the year, ending the decade at 3.4%.

Union County's unemployment rate is above the state average at 5.1% for 2019, according to the employment department data. The year ended with approximately 11,363 employees working and 605 people reported unemployment in the county.

There are approximately 10,510 nonfarm jobs in Union County as of December 2019. The most popular jobs in Union County that are non-farm work are trade, transportation and utilities jobs (2,180) and government positions (2,460).

Wallowa County's annual employment rate ended at 6.1%. That means approximately 206 people in Wallowa reported they were unemployed. The state reported 3,135 were employed during 2019.

Wallowa County has similar trends in employment with trade, transportations and utilities jobs (470) and government jobs (630) the at the highest number of employment in December 2019.

Across Oregon, job openings are increasing in healthcare and social assistance and government positions, according to employment department, which also reported professional and business services, construction and manufacturing opportunities are decreasing statewide.

The state employment department will issues a further look at county specific unemployment rates March 10.

Genuine Wallowa County celebrates first anniversary

ENTERPRISE — Genuine Wallowa County, an online gift shop showcasing handmade items from Wallowa County and Nez Perce artisans, will celebrate its first anniversary March 18. The business, operated by resident Kristy Athens, has created an economic engine to complement Wallowa County's existing retail businesses.

"I wanted to help local makers without directly competing with all the great shops," Athens said in a press release. "My e-commerce site generates additional income for local artists and micro-manufacturers by selling to customers who might not be able to come to Wallowa County, and it is available year-round, 24/7."

According to the release, since opening, Genuine Wallowa County has paid local makers more than $11,000. GWC has 60 vendors and offers more than 160 items. There is a monthly subscription box, curated gift boxes and completely self-designed boxes. GWC also builds custom gift bags for occasions such as weddings and business thank-yous.

The e-business has shipped boxes as far away as New Jersey and Georgia, and Athens sees a strong future for GWC.

"Online sales will continue to play a major role in retail," she said. "This online store gives people a chance to compete on the national market. There is great growth potential."

To celebrate the one-year anniversary and thank the community for its support, Athens is offering a 10% discount for locals ordering off the website. To receive the discount, enter the code "LOCAL" and add your zip code. Learn more at genuinewallowacounty.com.

New online tool helps producers find the right farm loan

WASHINGTON, D.C. — To help farmers and ranchers find information on U.S. Department of Agriculture loans that best fit their operations, USDA has launched the new Farm Loan Discovery Tool as the newest feature on farmers.gov, the Department's self-service website for farmers.

USDA's Farm Service Agency offers a variety of loan options to help farmers finance their operations. USDA conducted field research in eight states, gathering input from farmers and FSA farm loan staff to better understand their needs and challenges.

Farmers can access the Farm Loan Discovery Tool by visiting farmers.gov/fund and clicking the "Start" button. Follow the prompts and answer five simple questions to receive loan information that is applicable to your agricultural operation.

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