In fact, some people who draw unemployment insurance benefits are counted as employed. For example, someone who worked full time but was involuntarily cut to part-time hours may qualify for partial benefits. Another worker let go by one employer who manages to work part time for another employer or through self-employment, also may be eligible to collect benefits. The fact that these people work for at least one hour a week means they are statistically employed under labor force definitions.
The average number of employed people in Region 4 was 108,894 in 2009. This was 4,905 fewer than in 2008 and represents the largest percentage drop since at least 1980 when modern records begin (Graph 1). This does not mean there were that many payroll jobs in the region - in fact, there were only 94,210 nonfarm payroll jobs on average in 2009. Most people who are employed in agriculture or who are self-employed are counted as employed even though they are not counted in the monthly survey of nonfarm payroll jobs. Also, the survey that measures the number of people who are employed is taken at their place of residence. This means a person who lives in Region 4 but commutes to a job outside of the region is counted as employed in Region 4.
Unemployment in Region 4 fluctuates more than employment. An average of 13,368 residents were unemployed in 2009. This is more than double the number in 2007. It's also well above the average of 10,457 unemployed in the recession of 1982, although the unemployment rate was slightly higher then. Even in 1930, during the Great Depression, only 3,295 people registered as unemployed in Region 4 according to the 1930 Census. The region's population was 51,158 that year. Keep in mind that 13,368 was the average number unemployed at any given time in 2009. The number of people in the region who experience unemployment in a given month during a year can be considerably higher. The recent peak in the number of unemployed was 14,841 which happened in March 2009 during the brunt of the recession and winter slowdown.
The annual unemployment rate is shown in the chart. The increase shown at the end reflects the beginning of the recent recession. This increase mirrored national and statewide trends. The monthly unemployment rates for the counties in Region 4 fluctuate more than annual rates indicate because seasonal unemployment - which is important to the region - is not reflected. The unemployment rate is usually highest in the winter when tourism is low and construction, farming and natural-resource extraction is more difficult.
Since Region 4 is a mix of rural and urban, its unemployment rate is generally close to the statewide level and usually follows the same pattern. The economies of the three counties are different from each other in many ways but combined they are similar to the state as a whole. Benton County has stability resulting from Oregon State University, Lincoln County has a strongly seasonal economy influenced by tourism and Linn County is more dependent on the health of its manufacturing sector.
The labor force consists of all residents, 16 and older, who are either employed or unemployed and actively seeking employment. Each person is counted only once in labor force statistics even if he or she holds more than one job. Official labor force statistics exclude institutionalized people and Armed Forces active-duty personnel (which is why you often see the phrase "civilian labor force").
Employed: A labor force participant is employed if he or she:
- worked at least one hour during the week as a paid employee, or
- worked in his or her own business, profession, or farm, or
- worked at least 15 hours during the week as an unpaid worker in an enterprise operated by a member of the family, or
- was temporarily absent from work because of vacation, illness, bad weather, child care problems, parental leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons
Unemployed: A labor force participant is unemployed if he or she:
- had no job, and
- was available for work, and
- made specific efforts to find work, or
- was waiting to be recalled to a job following a layoff, regardless of whether he or she was looking for other jobs
- Unemployment rate: The unemployment rate is simply the number of unemployed people expressed as a percentage of the labor force.