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Friday, June 19, 2020

In Honor of Juneteenth: Black Oregonians in the Labor Force

This Friday June 19, celebrate freedom by celebrating Juneteenth! Short for “June Nineteenth,” Juneteenth commemorates the 1865 arrival of federal troops in Galveston, Texas, to ensure that all enslaved people be freed. Their arrival was over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is considered the longest-running African-American holiday (read more at History.com). In honor of Juneteenth, here are some facts about Oregon's Black population and laborforce.

According to U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey estimates, there are about 116,586 residents of Oregon who identify as Black or African American alone or in combination with another race, or about 3 percent of Oregon’s population. According to The Oregon Encyclopedia, Oregon's racial makeup has been shaped by three black exclusion laws that were in place during much of the region's early history. These laws, all later rescinded, largely succeeded in their aim of discouraging free blacks from settling in Oregon early on, ensuring that Oregon would develop as primarily white.

Black Oregonians in the Labor Force
There are roughly 60,000 Oregonians age 16 years or older who identified as Black alone in 2018. Black Oregonians have higher rates of labor force participation (65.2%) than all Oregonians (62.2%) but also a higher rates of unemployment at 10.8 percent compared to 6.0 percent for all Oregonians.

Though only a small share of Oregon's workforce (2%) identifies as Black or African American, the number of Black workers has grown rapidly over the past 20 years. From 1999 to 2019, the number of Black workers has grown by 85 percent, from 28,773 in 1999 to 53,210 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Quarterly Workforce Indicators data. This is a much faster growth rate than for the Oregon workforce overall (23%).
More than half of Black workers statewide are employed in one of three sectors: educational services, health care, and social assistance (28%); retail trade (12%); or manufacturing (11%).
Another one-fourth of Oregon’s African Americans work in arts, entertainment, accommodation and food services (11%); professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services (7%); or transportation, warehousing, and utilities (7%). The remaining balance are spread across other sectors.

African Americans have the third highest average monthly earnings in the state at $3,786 or 84 percent of the 2018 statewide average ($4,518). Asian residents had the highest average monthly earnings at $5,589, followed by white residents at $4,528. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders ($3,382), and American Indian or Alaska Natives ($3,247) had the lowest monthly earnings statewide.

To learn more about Black Oregonians in the labor force, check out the following articles:
African Americans in the Oregon Workforce

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

COVID-19 Employment Crisis Continues in May

“Although Oregon experienced job gains due to the limited resumption of economic activity in May, over the past three months of the COVID-19 pandemic job losses have totaled 243,500. Historically, this loss is unprecedented and currently thousands of Oregonians are still suffering the economic realities of being unemployed,” said Anna Johnson, Senior Economic Analyst with the Oregon Employment Department.

Oregon’s unemployment rate declined to 14.2 percent in May from 14.9 percent, as revised, in April. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent in May from 14.7 percent in April. Oregon’s April unemployment rate was the state’s highest since comparable records began in 1976.

Oregon total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 22,500 jobs in May, following a loss of 252,800 jobs in April. Thus, in May, employers added back nearly one in 10 jobs that were cut in April. Over-the-month job gains in May were largest in leisure and hospitality (+15,900 jobs); health care and social assistance (+8,400); construction (+5,600); and retail trade (+3,200). These gains were countered by substantial monthly losses in manufacturing (-4,900 jobs) and government (-9,900).

During May, statewide and county-specific guidelines for reopening businesses fostered increases in customer demand within leisure and hospitality. Full-service restaurants added back 8,500 jobs in May following steep job cuts in the prior two months. This industry employed 29,900 in May, which was still down more than half from its year-ago total of 72,700 jobs. Limited-service eating places, which includes fast-food establishments, saw its employment rebound by 5,400 in May to reach a total of 49,600. That was still nearly a third below its year-ago headcount of 71,700. Accommodation, which includes hotels and motels, added 1,600 jobs in May, but is still below half of its employment level of 26,500 reached in May 2019.

Additionally, some restrictions were lifted on elective and routine medical procedures. Ambulatory health care services responded with a gain of 8,300 jobs. Totaling 86,900 jobs in May, the industry was still 7,300 jobs below its May 2019 total.

On the down side, durable goods manufacturing cut 6,300 jobs in May. Much of these cuts were concentrated in primary metal manufacturing (-1,300 jobs) and in computer and electronic product manufacturing (-2,500 jobs). The portion of government with a big job change in May was local government education, which dealt with pandemic-induced school closures from kindergarten through universities, resulting in job cuts totaling 8,300.


Read the full press release here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Oregon’s Minimum Wage Increases on July 1, 2020

Oregon’s minimum wage increases on July 1, 2020, but the raises won’t be the same across the state. The minimum wage increases to $13.25 per hour inside the Portland urban growth boundary, $11.50 per hour in nonurban counties, and $12.00 in other areas of the state. As U.S. consumer prices stayed flat over-the-year ending in May 2020, minimum wage workers will enjoy up to a 6.7 increase in their purchasing power.

Oregon’s minimum wage levels were set by Senate Bill 1532 in 2016. The minimum wage increases on July 1 each year through 2022. There are three tiers of step increases based on geography. Beginning in 2023, minimum wage in all tiers will be adjusted for inflation.
Oregon’s three minimum wages will be in the top seven state-level minimum wages in the nation. The highest minimum wage will be in the District of Columbia ($15.00), followed by Washington ($13.50), Massachusetts ($12.75), and California ($13.00). Oregon’s July 1 increase will set the standard minimum wage on par with minimum wage rates in Arizona, Colorado, and Maine ($12.00). The federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour.

A Look Back at Minimum Wage Jobs in 2019

Between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020, Oregon’s minimum wages were $12.50 per hour within the Portland urban growth boundary, $11.25 standard, and $11.00 in nonurban counties. Roughly 6.6 percent of all jobs paid minimum wage or less in Oregon in the third quarter of 2019.

Oregon’s metro area counties had a slightly smaller share of minimum wage jobs (6.6%) than its non-metro counties (7.0%). Among the metro area counties, Deschutes County had the lowest percentage of jobs (5.1%) paying minimum wage, followed by Marion County (5.4%) and Multnomah County (5.8%). Clackamas County had the highest share of jobs paying minimum wage among metro counties at 9.2 percent.

Sixteen counties had a share of minimum wage jobs at or below the statewide share of 6.6 percent. The smallest shares were in Hood River County (3.9%), Morrow County (4.0%), Gilliam (4.8%), and Deschutes County (5.1%). Counties with a higher share of minimum wage jobs tended to be in rural areas. Eastern Oregon had a greater share of minimum wage jobs than other areas of the state. The highest shares of minimum wage jobs were found in Wheeler (18.1%), Baker (12.6%), Harney (11.5%), Malheur (11.4%), and Grant County (10.9%).
Read economist Sarah Cunningham's full article here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

April Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

COVID-19 Impact
April seasonally adjusted unemployment rates are not available for Oregon counties due to processing delays caused by large increases in unemployment. Not seasonally adjusted unemployment rates are being used for this news release. They reflect April’s increase in unemployment related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for April will be available on Qualityinfo.org or by request at a later date. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes.

April Employment and Unemployment
In April 2020, all of Oregon’s 36 counties experienced over-the-month increases in their unemployment rates. Eighteen of Oregon’s 36 counties experienced over-the-month unemployment rate increases of 10 percentage points or more. Lincoln County experienced the largest over-the-month increase at 21.5 percentage points. Counties with the smallest percentage point changes in their unemployment rates since March 2020 include Wheeler (+2.5%), Morrow (+3.7%), and Harney (+4.3%).

In April 2020, Lincoln County registered the highest unemployment rate for the month at 26.2 percent. Other counties with some of the highest unemployment rates in April were Clatsop (24.4%), Union (19.3%), and Coos (18.8%).

Wheeler County had Oregon’s lowest not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 5.8 percent. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in April include Morrow County (8.1%), Malheur (8.3%), and Lake (9.7%). Eighteen counties had unemployment rates below the national unadjusted rate of 14.4 percent. Nineteen counties also had unemployment rates at or below the statewide unadjusted rate of 14.8 percent.

Total nonfarm payroll employment declined sharply in all six of Oregon’s broad regions between April 2019 and April 2020. The largest job losses occurred in the Coast region (-19.7%) and Central Oregon (-14.7%). The Willamette Valley region (-12.9%), Southern Oregon (-12.3%), Eastern Oregon (-10.3%), and the Portland area (-9.7%) also experienced large over-the-year employment losses.
Next News Releases
The Oregon Employment Department will release statewide unemployment rate and industry employment data for May 2020 on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. The May 2020 county and metropolitan area unemployment rates will be released on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

Read the original press release here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

COVID-19 Leads to Oregon’s Record Job Losses in April

Public health measures implemented in March to combat the rapid spread of COVID-19 are having an unprecedented economic impact on Oregon and the United States. April provides the first full month of data measuring the initial impact on businesses and the unemployed.

Oregon’s unemployment rate rose from a near-record-low 3.5 percent, as revised, in March to a record-high 14.2 percent in April, as COVID-19 business closures shut down a large portion of the economy. This is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series (comparable data are available back to 1976). The number of unemployed Oregonians rose by 227,530, to reach 300,420 in April. These sharp increases reflect the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it. The U.S. unemployment rate rose from 4.4 percent in March to 14.7 percent in April.

Oregon’s payroll employers shed 253,400 jobs in April, following a loss of 13,200, as revised, in March. In April, one out of every eight jobs in Oregon was idled or lost. Leisure and hospitality took the brunt of the impact of pandemic-induced closures. The industry lost more than half of its jobs (-54.6%) in one month. Job losses were widespread throughout the economy though. No sector in Oregon gained jobs in April. Other industries that were hardest hit in April were health care and social assistance (-26,800 jobs), retail trade (-22,500), professional and business services (-19,200), government (-13,100), other services (-12,900), construction (-12,000), and manufacturing (-11,600).


Read the full press release here.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Initial Claims and Unemployment Benefits in Oregon

During the week of May 3 to May 9, 2020, the Oregon Employment Department received 14,100 initial claims for unemployment benefits. The agency has received 396,000 initial claims since COVID-19 business closures began in mid-March.

Initial Claims
The Employment Department has detailed information for about 25,000 of the 32,000 initial claims processed during the week of May 3 to May 9. The greatest number of initial claims continued to come from the accommodation and food services sector, with 68,400 initial claims filed in the industry since March 15. Other sectors with the largest number of initial claims totals since March 15 include health care and social assistance (43,100) and retail trade (36,400). However, every sector of the economy has seen increased claims activity.

Multnomah (5,500), Washington (3,200), and Clackamas (2,400) counties had the largest number of claims during the week of May 3 to May 9. More initial claims data by industry and area can be found on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19page.

Helping Oregonians
Almost nine out of 10 (86%) initial claims for regular unemployment benefits received between March 15 and May 9 have been processed. For each of the past five weeks, more claims for regular benefits have been processed than received in Oregon.

The record-level claims processing by the Employment Department continues to help communities across Oregon as the economy transitions to re-opening. If measured by dollars paid, Unemployment Insurance would now be the largest paying subsector of Oregon’s economy. By comparison, unemployment benefits would have ranked 37th by payroll prior to the COVID-19 closures.

Still, tens of thousands of unemployment claims remain unprocessed, and some have been waiting for benefits for six or seven weeks. The Employment Department recognizes the importance to getting benefits to everyone who needs them. The agency continues expanding its capacity, with a new contact center now open, and a total of 690 employees processing claims. Claims processing continues seven days per week. The Employment Department also continues to make thousands of call-backs every day to Oregonians who need to have their claims processed.

Next week the Employment Department plans to issue two news releases. Oregon’s unemployment rate for April is scheduled to be published at 10:00 a.m. on May 19. The Employment Department also expects launch of the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program next week. PEUC provides 13 weeks of additional benefits for those who have run out of regular benefits, and remain out of work due to COVID-19 closures.

Initial unemployment claims data will continue to be updated each Thursday on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page. Information about new unemployment benefit programs, questions about resuming business operations, and other resources continue to be updated regularly on the Employment Department’s COVID-19 page.

Read the full press release here.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Initial Claims and Unemployment Benefits in Oregon

During the week of April 26 to May 2, the Oregon Employment Department received 19,600 initial claims for unemployment benefits. The agency has received more than 381,800 initial claims since COVID-19 businesses closures began in mid-March.

Initial Claims
The Employment Department has detailed information of about 30,300 of the 45,100 initial claims processed during the week of April 26 to May 2. The greatest number of initial claims continued to come from the accommodation and food services sector, with 64,700 initial claims filed in the industry since March 15. Other sectors with the largest initial claims totals since March 15 include health care and social assistance (39,700) and retail trade (33,100).

Every sector of the economy has seen increased claims activity. Accommodation and food services’ share of total claims is declining, although the industry still accounts for 28 percent of initial claims since mid-March. Shares of total initial claims are increasing in retail trade, manufacturing, administrative and waste services, and wholesale trade.

Multnomah (6,500), Washington (3,900), and Clackamas (2,900) counties had the largest number of claims during the week of April 26 to May 2. More initial claims data by industry and area can be found on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page.

Helping Oregonians
Four out of five (83%) initial claims for regular unemployment benefits received between March 15 and May 2 have been processed. For each of the past four weeks, more claims have been processed than received in Oregon.

The Employment Department has also processed more than 10,000 applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for the self-employed, contract, gig, and other workers not eligible for regular unemployment benefits.

The agency continues expanding its ability to process more claims for unemployment benefits. There are currently 635 employees working unemployment claims, with more hiring underway and a new contact center opening next week. Claims processing continues seven days per week.

In addition to more staffing, the Employment Department also continues working to implement more unemployment benefit programs. Programming and testing is underway for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. This provides up to 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits for those who have run out of benefits and remain out of work due to COVID-19 business closures. Program eligibility and more details for this and other programs are available in the CARES Act section of the agency’s COVID-19 page.

Read the original press release here.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Who Are the COVID-19 Unemployed in Oregon?

One of the most visible and devastating impacts of the state’s stay-at-home order to protect us from the human health crisis presented by COVID-19 has been mass layoffs. More than 30 million initial claims for unemployment insurance were filed across the nation in the first six weeks of the crisis. Here in Oregon about 362,000 initial claims were received in the first six weeks, roughly 17 percent of the statewide labor force. We now have enough data to start drawing some conclusions about industries, areas, and populations most impacted at the onset of the crisis.

Not surprisingly the most populated counties have the largest number of initial unemployment insurance claims, with Multnomah (52,358 claims) and Washington County (27,520 claims) in the Portland Metro area topping the list of counties with the highest number of claims processed. However, we can see a clearer picture of the hardest hit counties by looking at the number of initial claims as a share of the total labor force. Here we see that counties with large accommodation and food service sectors and tourism destinations were the hardest hit. The number of initial claims processed in both Lincoln and Clatsop counties on the Oregon coast represented more than 17 percent of the labor force. Deschutes County accounted for the highest share of unemployment insurance claims processed of Oregon’s metropolitan counties, accounting for more than 14 percent of the Bend MSA labor force.


As would be expected, accommodation and food services has been the hardest hit industry during the current crisis, with initial claims processed over the past six weeks representing roughly 32 percent of statewide employment in the industry. Arts, entertainment, and recreation was the next hardest hit as museums, ski resorts, zoos, and other recreation companies have closed or seen their operations significantly curtailed. Another hard hit industry is “other services,” which includes personal care services like fitness instructors, childcare workers, barbers/ stylists, massage therapists, and pet groomers.

Perhaps more surprising has been the large number of initial unemployment insurance claims being processed in construction, health care, and manufacturing. These were industries that on first glance would seem more insulated from the initial COVID-19 restrictions. Health care posting large numbers of layoffs during a health crisis may seem puzzling; however, there are many health-related businesses that are not serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 response such as dentist offices, ambulatory health services, medical labs, and surgery centers. Many elective procedures are being postponed until the health crisis diminishes and there is less strain on the hospital system. Layoffs in construction and manufacturing are likely a result of an inability for many of these businesses to implement effective social distancing requirements. However, as this crisis continues, layoffs are increasingly due to a demand shock from less consumer spending. The one commonality among these hardest hit industries is an inability for many of the jobs to transition to work from home and the design of workplaces that makes social distancing difficult.

The Most Vulnerable Oregonians Are the Most Heavily Impacted

Although these COVID-related layoffs are spread across all industries it is becoming clear that the most vulnerable Oregonians are being impacted more significantly. Lower paying occupational groups posted notably higher shares of layoffs than higher paying occupational groups. The occupational groups with a median hourly rate of less than $20 an hour represent around 62 percent of total initial claims for unemployment insurance processed over the first six weeks. This represents a higher share than the 57 percent of statewide employment these lower paying occupations account for. Meanwhile, the highest paying occupational groups, those with a median hourly rate greater than $30, represent only 12 percent of initial claims processed, but 22 percent of total employment.

When comparing the level of education for today’s unemployment insurance claimants compared with the educational attainment of the entire labor force, we see that those with lower levels of education have been hit particularly hard. This is likely a reflection of the industries that have been hardest hit, such as leisure and hospitality, construction, retail, and manufacturing that have a higher concentration of workers with a high school diploma or less. Around 58 percent of recent unemployment insurance claims were by individuals with a high school diploma or less, a significantly higher share than the 28 percent of the labor force they account for.


The age distribution of the unemployment insurance claimants is fairly typical of the labor force more broadly, with a few exceptions. Those ages 25 to 34 have been particularly hard hit. They accounted for roughly 29 percent of all unemployment insurance claimants in the past six weeks, but only 23 percent of the total labor force. This age group accounts for a larger share of the jobs in industries that were particularly hard hit. It could also be that this group represents workers earlier in their career and they were more susceptible to layoffs than higher level managers or supervisors. The youngest workers (ages 16 to 19) seem to be the least impacted, accounting for only 2 percent of total claimants. However, this is likely a reflection of lack of unemployment insurance coverage for these young workers who have fewer covered hours in the system. 

Helping Oregonians

This is a difficult time for many of us. In addition to the emotional toll this global pandemic is taking, many of our fellow Oregonians are also struggling with the economic realities of becoming unemployed. The Oregon Employment Department is here to serve in this time of need by administering unemployment insurance. Due to the record increase in claims, it is taking longer than usual for claims to be processed. The Unemployment Insurance Division is working as fast as they can to process every claim, and they continue to add staff. They ask that you continue to file weekly and you will be notified when your claim is processed. For additional information about unemployment insurance and updates regarding new federal programs go here.

Read Regional Economist Damon Runberg's full article here





Thursday, April 30, 2020

Initial Claims and Additional Unemployment Benefits in Oregon

During the week of April 19 to April 25, the Oregon Employment Department received 28,500 initial claims for unemployment benefits. Since public health and safety measures began the week starting March 15, Oregon has received more than 362,200 initial claims for unemployment insurance.

Initial Claims
For each of the past three weeks, more initial claims have been processed than received. The Employment Department has detailed information for 29,700 of the 46,700 claims processed during the week of April 19 to April 25.

The greatest number of initial claims continued to come from the accommodation and food services sector (5,100). Since March 15th, there have been about 59,600 initial claims filed in this industry. Other sectors with the largest initial claims totals over the past six weeks include health care and social assistance (35,300) and retail trade (28,700). Every sector of the economy has seen increased claims activity though. Initial claims totaled 22,500 in manufacturing and 16,000 in construction since March 15th.

Multnomah (6,200), Washington (3,600), and Clackamas (3,000) counties had the largest number of claims during the week of April 19 to April 25. More initial claims data by industry and area can be found on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page.

Helping Oregonians
The Employment Department has processed three out of every four initial claims received between March 15 and April 25, and continues expanding its processing ability. The agency now has 610 employees dedicated to processing unemployment claims. A new contact center is expected to open in May. Current contact centers have expanded call hours from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays, are giving call-backs to those with unprocessed claims, and employees continue processing claims seven days per week.

After starting up the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (“the $600”) and the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for self-employed, contract, and gig workers, the Employment Department is now working towards implementing the third piece of the CARES Act. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program extends benefits for up to 13 weeks for those who have run out of benefits and remain out of work due to COVID-19 closures.

Read the full press release here.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Initial Claims and Additional Unemployment Benefits in Oregon

During the week of April 12 to April 18, the Oregon Employment Department received 36,700 initial claims for unemployment benefits. Since public health measures began the week starting March 15, Oregon has received about 333,700 initial claims for unemployment insurance.

Initial Claims
The Employment Department has detailed information for 31,700 of the initial claims processed during the week of April 12 to April 18. The greatest number of initial claims continued to come from the leisure and hospitality sector (8,000), which includes hotels and restaurants. This reflects ongoing impacts of public health and safety measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the week of March 15 to March 21, there have been about 60,800 initial claims filed from leisure and hospitality.

Other sectors with the largest initial claims totals for the past five weeks include health care and social assistance (30,900) and retail trade (24,300). Every sector of the economy has seen increased claims activity though. Initial claims totaled 16,500 in professional and business services, and 18,200 in manufacturing since the week of March 15 to March 21.

Multnomah (6,800), Washington (4,000), and Lane (2,900) counties had the largest number of claims during the week of April 12 to April 18. These three counties have consistently had the largest number of initial claims in recent weeks. More initial claims data by industry and area can be found on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page.

Helping Oregonians
The Employment Department continues processing initial and ongoing unemployment benefits claims at a record pace, resulting in $119 million in benefits paid to Oregonians during the week of April 12 to April 18. The agency continues expanding capacity for taking claims, with 520 employees now dedicated to taking unemployment claims, and additional contact center facility planning underway.

Employment Department efforts also continue toward launching the Pandemic UnemploymentAssistance (PUA) program. Once open, the PUA program will provide the self-employed, contract workers, and gig workers not already eligible, along with those not usually eligible due to too few hours or earnings, and those who were going to start work but could not, with benefits never before available. Programming, testing, and staff training for the PUA program are in progress. Upon successful testing, the Employment Department expects to open the program for applications by the end of April.

Additional information, program updates, and metrics related to the Employment Department’s ongoing response to the unprecedented need for unemployment benefits can be found on the interactive dashboard of the agency’s COVID-19 page.

Read the full press release here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

March Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

COVID-19 Impact
March data from Oregon’s establishment and household surveys do not reflect the early effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the labor market. This is because the data used for today’s report was collected prior to public health measures related to social distancing began on March 17th. We expect the April data, published on May 27th, to show the early effects on employment and the unemployment rate in Oregon. Please see the Weekly New Unemployment Insurance Claims report for the latest information on initial claims for unemployment insurance.

March Employment and Unemployment
In March, Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 2.6 percent. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in March include Washington County (2.8%), Hood River (2.8%), and Multnomah (3.0%). Twenty-nine counties had unemployment rates below the national rate of 4.4 percent. Six counties also had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 3.3 percent.

Grant and Klamath counties registered the highest unemployment rates for the month at 6.0 percent. Other counties with some of the highest unemployment rates in March were Wallowa (5.1%) and Crook (4.9%).

In March 2020, all but one of Oregon’s counties were at or below their unemployment rates for March 2019. Sherman County’s unemployment rate increased 0.2 percentage point from March 2019 to 4.1 percent. Lake County’s unemployment rate decreased the most, dropping 2.3 percentage points from 6.5 percent in March 2019 to 4.2 percent in March 2020.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in five of Oregon’s broad regions between March 2019 and March 2020. The largest job gains occurred in the Willamette Valley (+1.7%). Central Oregon (+1.4%) and the Portland region (+0.9%) also experienced some of the largest over-the-year employment gains.

Read the full press release here.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Unemployment Benefit Payments Quadruple in Oregon

During the week of April 5 to April 11, the Oregon Employment Department received 53,800 initial claims for unemployment benefits. That’s in addition to a revised total of 243,000 initial claims filed during the prior three weeks.

Helping Oregonians
The Oregon Employment Department continues to prioritize efforts that can get the most benefits to the greatest number of affected Oregonians the fastest. With the first CARES Act payments on April 10, Oregon is among the early states getting an extra $600 per week to those out of work due to the COVID19 pandemic. During the week of March 29 to April 4, the Employment Department paid $23 million in benefits to Oregonians. During the week of April 5 to April 11, that more than quadrupled to $97 million in benefits paid. More benefits measures are on the agency’s COVID-19 page.

The Employment Department’s efforts continue with more hiring underway, and programming the unemployment benefits system for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Once ready, the PUA program will allow the self-employed, contract workers, and gig workers not already eligible to receive unemployment benefits for the first time.

The responsiveness of existing agency employees transitioning from other program areas to take claims, efforts to rapidly hire new staff, and launching new programs has resulted in getting much-needed benefits to more Oregonians in difficult times. These results come despite the agency’s reliance on a dated mainframe system to process unemployment benefits. The Employment Department will continue to examine opportunities to improve services to Oregonians, such as waiving the “waiting week” for benefits. As of now, waiving the waiting week requires thousands of hours of programming, and would delay processing record numbers of claims that are getting benefits to Oregonians who need them now.

Initial Claims
The Employment Department has detailed information for 47,700 of the initial claims processed during the week starting April 5. The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes hotels and restaurants, continued to see the greatest number of initial claims for unemployment benefits (12,300). This reflects ongoing impacts of public health and safety measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 15, there have been about 52,900 initial claims filed in the leisure and hospitality sector. Health care and social assistance (25,800) and retail trade (19,700) are other sectors with large totals of initial weekly claims in the past four weeks, but every sector has seen additional claims activity. 


Multnomah (10,200), Washington (6,000), and Lane (4,600) also continued to be the counties with the largest number of claims. More initial claims data by industry and area can be found on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page.

Read the full and original press release here