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Jackson County Leisure and Hospitality Recovers From Recession
by Guy Tauer
Published Nov-22-2013

Leisure and hospitality employment in Jackson County suffered as many industries did during the Great Recession. Analyzing August employment, often a peak month in this seasonal industry, payroll employment fell by about 1,200 jobs from August 2007 to August 2009, or a decline of 11.7 percent. After slowly adding jobs from 2009 through 2012, employment nearly recovered to its pre-recession peak this year. During the past 12 months, employment rose by 700, or a gain of 7.3 percent, which is the fastest growth rate of all Oregon counties and metropolitan statistical areas.

One indicator of tourism trends is lodging demand, as published in the Oregon Tourism Commission's Oregon Travel Barometer. Year-over-year lodging demand in the Southern Oregon region of the state increased by 6.8 percent, outpacing the statewide (3.7%) and the U.S. (2.4%) growth rates. Examining more detailed quarterly payroll information through June 2013 shows that most of the county's leisure and hospitality job growth occurred in the food services and drinking places category. Through early summer, arts, entertainment and recreation employment was still down 10 percent from its pre-recession peak and accommodations stood 6.3 percent below its peak. No doubt the summer fires in the region threw a wet blanket on a few tourism-related activities for a couple of weeks, with rafting curtailed along parts of the Rogue River and some outdoor theater and music performances temporarily moved indoors.

Despite that brief setback, the overall trend is one of rebound from the Great Recession. Pent-up demand, moderating gas prices, rising home and stock values and the area's many tourist attractions have given rise to more tourism activity. Thus, Jackson County's leisure and hospitality industry is essentially back to where it was before the bottom fell out of the overall economy in 2008 to 2009.

Graph 1
Jackson County August leisure and hospitality employment 2001-2013