PENDLETON, Ore. — Post-recession job growth in rural Oregon has mostly lagged behind the state’s metro areas, but one county is going against the grain.

Morrow County’s employment has risen about 40 percent compared to post-recession levels, the East Oregonian reported ( ). The county’s workers are on average the third-highest paid in the state.

Morrow County’s unique job growth had been found through a state study called “The Employment Landscape of Rural Oregon.”

Of the 23 counties identified as rural, 17 remain below their peak employment prior to the 2007-09 recession, the report said.

The county had not been exposed to industries hit hardest by the recession, such as wood products or transportation equipment manufacturing, regional economist Dallas Fridley said.

Morrow County has managed to dodge those impacts compared to its neighbors that are yet to fully recover from the recession, he said. Employment is still down by as much as 20 percent in Gilliam County and about 16 percent in Grant County, compared to pre-recession peaks.

“In some respects, (Morrow County) is an island,” Fridley said. “There really wasn’t a dip in employment related to the recession.”

Overall, Oregon’s job growth ranks as eighth-fastest in the country, though rural counties account for just 13 percent of that growth with 238,000 jobs combined.

The report takes into account factors such as limited infrastructure and an aging workforce in rural areas, as well as communities that may depend on just a few industries, making them more vulnerable to economic shocks.

Information from: East Oregonian,