Pages

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Record Initial Claims for Unemployment Benefits Continue in Oregon

In three weeks’ time, the Oregon Employment Department has received 269,900 initial claims for unemployment benefits. By comparison, net job losses in Oregon totaled 147,800 for the duration of the Great Recession.

During the week starting March 29 alone, the Oregon Employment Department received 100,700 initial claims, continuing the record levels of initial claims received the previous two weeks. The agency continues rapidly adding staff to take claims, and processing claims at a record pace. The federal CARES Act payments of $600 will also start processing through Oregon’s system by the end of this week.

Initial Claims

The Employment Department has detailed information for 54,500 of the initial claims processed during the week starting March 29. The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes hotels and restaurants, continued to see the greatest number of initial claims for unemployment benefits (14,400). This reflects impacts of public health and safety measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 15, there have been about 40,600 initial claims filed in the leisure and hospitality sector. Many initial claims also came from workers in health care and social assistance (8,800) and retail trade (7,100) during the week of March 29.

Multnomah (12,100), Washington (6,600), and Lane (5,300) were 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 or in the visualization tool below.

Note: Data in chart reflects the number of processed unemployment insurance claims we have detailed information for. Not all processed claims have been classified by industry.

Helping Oregonians
In one month’s time, the Oregon Employment Department more than quadrupled the number of staff
dedicated to taking claims. Those staff continue to process record numbers of claims week after week. The Employment Department processed more claims during the first quarter of 2020 than the total for all of 2019. The agency’s newly re-designed COVID-19 page includes expanded resource guides for employers and workers filing claims, and a new dashboard of measures showing our response to the unprecedented need for unemployment benefits.

The agency paid $28 million in benefits to Oregonians during the week starting March 29. That figure should increase rapidly as the additional CARES Act benefits of $600 per week start for those already eligible for unemployment benefits. The agency continues receiving guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, and is working to implement the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program into its systems. The PUA benefits allow the self-employed, contract workers, and gig workers not already eligible to receive unemployment benefits for the first time.
While it remains critically important that all who can file claims online do so, the agency has also extended contact center hours to 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays for filing claims by phone. Even with rapid expansion of staff to take claims, wait times averaged 106 minutes on claims phone lines.

Read the full, original press release here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Self-Employed Workers in Oregon

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law March 27, 2020. The CARES Act expands unemployment insurance benefits to cover more workers that are self-employed. These workers would not normally qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. While the Oregon Employment Department does not have information on which self-employed workers are seeking unemployment insurance benefits, the following information from the American Community Survey (2018, five-year estimates) provides figures for self-employed workers in Oregon.

226,000 people were self-employed in 2018, or 12 percent of all Oregon workers.

This includes those who had incorporated their businesses and those who had not. Of all the self-employed, 145,000, or about six out of 10, were unincorporated; the remaining 81,000 were incorporated. People who are self-employed typically incorporate their businesses in order to receive traditional benefits of the corporate structure, including limited liability, tax considerations, and enhanced opportunity to raise capital through the sale of stocks and bonds.

Self-employed workers are found in many different occupations

In 2018, unincorporated self-employment rates were highest for workers in service occupations (10.6 percent); natural resource, construction, and maintenance occupations (10.0 percent); and management, business, science and arts occupations (7.8 percent). Self-employment rates had a somewhat different pattern for incorporated business owners than for the unincorporated self-employed. Among the incorporated self-employed, business ownership rates were highest for management, business, science and arts occupations (5.8 percent), and for natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations (4.9 percent).

207,000 Oregon households had self-employment income

Nearly 207,000 Oregon households, or 13 percent, had self-employment income, which totaled more than $6.9 billion in 2018. Self-employment’s $6.9 billion in household income represented about 5.4 percent of Oregon’s household income total.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Record Initial Claims for Unemployment Benefits Continue in Oregon

During the week starting March 22, the Oregon Employment Department received 92,700 initial claims for Unemployment Insurance benefits. That represented a 21 percent increase from the previous record during the week starting March 15. By comparison, the agency received 4,900 initial claim filings during the week starting March 8. The Employment Department continues to take proactive steps to meet the unprecedented need for unemployment benefits, which is largely due to reduced hours and layoffs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initial Claims 
The Employment Department has detailed information for 45,800 of the claims processed during the week starting March 22. The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes hotels and restaurants, saw the greatest number of initial claims for unemployment benefits (15,500). This reflects impacts of additional public health and safety measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many initial claims also came from workers in health care and social assistance (7,600) and retail trade (4,600). Multnomah (10,900), Washington (5,300), and Lane (4,200) were the counties with the largest number of claims. The largest percentage increases in initial claims over the week occurred in Harney and Tillamook counties. More initial claims data by industry and area can be found on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page or in the tool below:

Note: Data in chart reflects the number of processed unemployment insurance claims. Not all processed claims have been classified by industry.

Helping Oregonians
Over the past two weeks the Employment Department doubled the number of staff dedicated to taking claims, and is in the process of tripling it. The agency employees processing claims are doing so at a record rate. We also continue adding secure phone lines to take more calls while also protecting the personal information of those filing claims. Still, the truly unprecedented and sudden level of initial claims has caused delays and frustration for Oregonians who need our help, especially by phone.

The Employment Department encourages anyone who can file an online claim to do so. The agency’s website includes a video with step-by-step instructions for filing online claims specific to COVID-19 situations. Filing an initial or weekly claim online helps those who must file their claim by phone. Calls to follow up on the status of successfully filed claims also allows fewer new initial claims, which require the most time and work, to be received by phone. The Employment Department has started sending automatic confirmations for successfully filed claims with an e-mail address provided. Other automatic fixes and guidance, discussed in this video conversation, have been implemented to address common online claim errors and reduce the need for follow-up.

Read the full press release here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Census 2020: Who Gets Counted and How It Benefits Your Community

It is time for the U.S. Census Bureau to count everyone in efforts to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding. The data collected from the Census will benefit local residents, businesses, real estate developers and planners, and help local governments understand the needs of their local communities.

Who Gets Counted?

Everyone living in the United States will be counted, including the five U.S. territories (American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). If you are filling out the census for your home, this includes everyone who is or will be living within the residence as of April 1, 2020. Both related and unrelated individuals – who live and sleep at your home most of the time – should be counted.

Non-U.S. citizens are counted as well, and are required by law to be counted in the Census. The United States Census of 2020 addresses citizens of other countries as follows: citizens of foreign countries who are living in the United States during the 2020 Census, including members of the diplomatic community, should be counted at the U.S. residence where they live and sleep most of the time. If they are not sure about where they usually live, count them where they are staying on April 1, 2020.

For special circumstances – such as people who have multiple residences, students, U.S. Military Personnel, and many others – questions can be answered here. Language support will also be available to those whose preferred language is not English.

Four Ways the Census Benefits Your Community

The Census benefits four different aspects of our lives:
1. Residents use the Census to support initiatives, the quality of life, and consumer advocacy in their communities.
2. Businesses use the information gathered from the Census to decide where to build factories, offices, and stores. This leads to the creation of new jobs within a community, positively impacting the area.
3.Local government uses Census data to provide and establish strong public safety and the planning of new schools and hospitals.
4.Real estate developers and city planners develop and plan new homes and neighborhoods based on the data gathered from the Census. 

For more information and to fill out the Census for your household, visit the 2020 Census site:
Ways to respond to the Census: https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html
Mycensus.gov: https://my2020census.gov/
Language support: https://2020census.gov/en/languages.html

Read workforce analyst Kelvin Valdovinos' full article here

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

February Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

The Oregon Employment Department is releasing employment and labor force data for the month of February today. These numbers will not capture any of the economic impacts of COVID-19. Our employment and labor force data will capture current COVID-19 events in the April data to be released in May. The most current labor force data we are able to publish are initial claims for unemployment data.

Record Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims in Oregon During the week of March 15-21, 2020, the Oregon Employment Department processed around 22,800 Unemployment Insurance claims, four times more than the 4,900 processed the week prior. The department received a total of 76,500 claims online and by phone, around 20 times the workload experienced in a typical week. The Employment Department is rapidly redeploying its staff, opening additional phone lines, and hiring new staff in an attempt to address this unprecedented surge in claims. The department is still offering job seeker and employer services with additional, socially distanced options. We are present to help Oregonians who have experienced tremendous disruptions, while also doing our part to follow health and safety guidelines for our communities.

More information on Unemployment Insurance benefits can be found here: https://govstatus.egov.com/ORUnemployment_COVID19

Data and analysis related to COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.qualityinfo.org/covid-19

February Employment and Unemployment
In February, Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 2.7 percent. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in February include Washington (2.9%), Hood River (2.9%), and Multnomah (3.0%). Eight counties had unemployment rates below the national rate of 3.5 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 6.1 percent. Other counties with some of the highest unemployment rates in February were Wallowa (5.3%) and Crook (5.0%).

In February 2020, all but one of Oregon’s counties were at or below their unemployment rates for February 2019. Sherman County’s unemployment rate increased 0.2 percentage point from February 2019 to 4.1 percent. Harney County’s unemployment rate decreased the most, dropping 2.1 percentage points from 6.6 percent in February 2019 to 4.5 percent in February 2020. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in six of Oregon’s broad regions between February 2019 and February 2020. The largest job gains occurred in the Willamette Valley (+1.7%). The Portland region (+1.3%) and Central Oregon (+1.0%) also experienced some of the largest over-the-year employment gains.

Next News Releases 
The Oregon Employment Department will release statewide unemployment rate and industry employment data for March 2020 on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. The March 2020 county and metropolitan area unemployment rates will be released on Tuesday, April 21, 2020.

Read the full press release here.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Record Initial Claims for Unemployment Benefits in Oregon

During the week of March 15, the Oregon Employment Department received more than 76,500 initial claims for Unemployment Insurance benefits. During the first three days of the week of March 22, initial claims have been tracking at record levels again. This comes as a sharp increase from 4,900 initial claims filed during the week of March 8. The Employment Department is taking several measures to meet the unprecedented need for unemployment benefits, which is largely due to reduced hours and layoffs related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

Initial Claims 
Of the 76,500 initial claims filed, the Employment Department has detailed information for the 22,800 claims processed during the week. The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes hotels and restaurants, saw the greatest number of initial claims for unemployment benefits (10,700). This reflects some of the early impact of public health and safety measures. Many initial claims also came from workers in health care (2,100) and retail trade (1,400). 

Multnomah, Washington, and Lane counties had the largest number of processed claims during the week of March 15. The largest increases in initial claims occurred in Union and Clatsop counties. More initial claims data by industry and area can be found on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page.

Note: Data in chart reflects the number of processed unemployment insurance claims. Not all processed claims have been classified by industry.

Helping Oregonians 
The Employment Department has been proactive in its response to an abrupt disruption in the economy by enhancing the performance and stability of our online claims system. Over the past two weeks, the agency also hired new employees, shifted existing staff working in other program areas, and trained them, doubling the number of employees working on unemployment claims. We will continue adding and training employees to process unemployment claims in the coming weeks. 

Still, record levels of unemployment claims cause longer wait times, as the department works to gather and process the details factoring into each individual claimant’s eligibility and weekly benefit amount. We encourage Oregonians who have lost their jobs to file claims using our online system to lower wait times by phone. A new video from the Employment Department shows step-by-step details for filing an online claim

The department also continues to offer job seeker and employer services, including more phone and virtual options for appropriate social distancing. We are present to help Oregonians who have experienced tremendous disruptions, while also doing our part to follow health and safety guidelines for our communities. 

The Employment Department’s COVID-19 web page serves as a resource guide. It includes an overview of the Unemployment Insurance program, along with questions and answers about specific COVID-19 coronavirus-related situations and unemployment benefits. We continue to update our site with the latest information related to COVID-19 as new federal and state guidelines change or expand benefits. The Employment Department has also enacted temporary rules, adding more flexibility for unemployment benefits to help Oregonians affected by COVID-19 business closures. 

To file an online claim for unemployment benefits, go to Oregon.gov/employ or call 1-877-FILE-4-UI. For help finding jobs and training resources, contact your local WorkSource Oregon center or go to WorkSourceOregon.org. Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

Read the full, original press release here.  

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Filed in Oregon Rose from 800 on Sunday, March 15 to 18,500 on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Economic Impacts

The number of initial Unemployment Insurance claims filed in Oregon rose from approximately 800 on Sunday, March 15 to a total of 18,500 on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Although we know the COVID-19 coronavirus is causing a reduction in economic activity both nationally and in Oregon, it’s too early for unemployment rate or payroll jobs numbers to show the impact of these employment disruptions. The Employment Department will provide more information online as updated data become available.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

The Oregon Employment Department provides Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to most workers who are out of work through no fault of their own. To get benefits, workers must meet some requirements. In general, to claim and receive unemployment benefits for a week, workers must be available for work, able to work, and actively look for work they can do. Today the Employment Department enacted temporary rules to give more flexibility in providing unemployment benefits to COVID-19 affected workers.

Unemployment Insurance benefits are available during temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 situations. These benefits occur for employees whose employer stops operation for a short period of time, such as cleaning following a coronavirus exposure, or by government requirement. Workers can get unemployment benefits, and do not need to seek work with other employers if their place of employment will resume operations. To receive benefits, affected workers must still be able to work, stay in contact with their employer, and be available to work when called back. A full resource guide with questions and answers about specific COVID-19 coronavirus-related situations and unemployment benefits is available at Oregon.gov/employ. This site also has information for filing an online claim.



For help finding jobs and training resources, contact your local WorkSource Oregon center or go to WorkSourceOregon.org. 

To file an online claim for unemployment benefits, go to Oregon.gov/employ or call 1-877-FILE-4-UI. Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

Read the full news release here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Employment Department Releases Oregon’s February Unemployment Rate

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in both January and February, the lowest on comparable records dating back to 1976. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February.

“It’s too early to have data showing the employment impact, but the response to COVID-19 is causing a reduction in economic activity both nationally and in Oregon. It will be weeks before we can accurately quantify the extent of the damage to Oregon’s labor market,” said Nick Beleiciks, Systems and Economic Analysis manager at the Oregon Employment Department.

Oregon’s labor force data for February shows little impact from the spread of the coronavirus since the February unemployment rate is based on people’s activity during the week that included February 12th. The monthly unemployment rate is always based on a person’s employment status for the week that includes the 12th of each month. By mid-February, there had been relatively limited economic impact from the disease in the U.S. In February, there were 69,000 unemployed Oregonians, which was the lowest number in more than 40 years.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 3,100 jobs in February, following a loss of 300 jobs in January. Two major industries added more than 1,000 jobs in February: construction (+1,700 jobs) and professional and business services (+1,300). Only one industry cut jobs substantially: manufacturing (-500).

Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment increased by 26,600 jobs, or 1.4 percent, over the year since February 2019. In the past 12 months, transportation, warehousing, and utilities grew at the fastest rate of the major industries, expanding by 3,100 jobs, or 4.5 percent. Information also expanded rapidly, adding 1,100 jobs, or 3.2 percent, since February 2019. Construction (+3,000 jobs, or 2.8%) and other services (+1,900 jobs, or 2.9%) also were leading industries of growth over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, only one industry shed a substantial number of jobs since February 2019; manufacturing dropped 3,700 jobs, declining 1.9 percent.



Read the full press release here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

January Employment and Unemployment in Oregon’s Counties

Benton County had Oregon’s lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 2.8 percent in January 2020. Other counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in January include Washington (2.9%), Hood River (3.0%), and Multnomah (3.1%). Six counties had unemployment rates below the national rate of 3.6 percent. The same six counties also had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 3.3 percent.

Grant County registered the highest unemployment rate for the month at 6.3 percent. Other counties with some of the highest unemployment rates in January were Klamath (6.2%) and Wallowa (5.5%).

In January 2020, all of Oregon’s counties were at or below their unemployment rates for January 2019. Sherman County had the same unemployment rate in January 2020 as in January 2019 (4.0%). Harney County’s unemployment rate decreased the most, dropping 1.9 percentage points from 6.6 percent in January 2019 to 4.7 percent in January 2020.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose in four of Oregon’s six broad regions between January 2019 and January 2020. The largest job gains occurred in the Portland area (+1.1%). The Willamette Valley (+0.9%), Central Oregon (+0.7%), and Southern Oregon (+0.2%) saw employment growth over the past year.

Read the full press release here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Record Low Unemployment Continues in Oregon

Oregon’s unemployment rate declined to 3.3 percent in January, the lowest on comparable records dating back to 1976. The December unemployment rate was revised downward to 3.4 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in January.

Annual revisions to the labor force data show that Oregon’s unemployment rate steadily declined throughout last year, from 4.2 percent in January and February 2019 to the low point for the year of 3.4 percent during each of the last three months of 2019. The revisions indicate an even tighter labor market than originally estimated, with Oregon’s unemployment rate solidly in the three-percent range for the first time since comparable records began in 1976. 

Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 1,800 jobs in January, following a gain of 800 jobs in December. Two major industries added more than 1,000 jobs in January: health care and social assistance (+1,600 jobs) and government (+1,200). Conversely, three industries cut jobs substantially: professional and business services (-2,900 jobs), construction (-1,400), and manufacturing (-1,200).


Read the full press release here

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Employers Report More than 57,000 Job Vacancies in 2019

Throughout the year, the Oregon Employment Department surveys private employers from all industries and areas of the state to ask about the job vacancies they are actively trying to fill. For each vacancy, the employer provides the job title, starting wage, and education and experience requirements for the job. They also specify whether their vacancies are for full- or part-time positions, and permanent or seasonal jobs. If they face challenges with vacancies, employers also write in the primary reason for difficulty filling their job openings.

Employers reported 57,000 job openings at any given time in 2019. Most vacancies offered full-time (77%) permanent (93%) positions. About one-third (34%) of job vacancies required education beyond high school. The average hourly wage for these vacancies was $18.81. Vacancies with higher education requirements were more likely to require previous experience and offer higher average wages.

Health care and social assistance reported the most vacancies of any industry (11,200), followed by leisure and hospitality (7,700), and retail trade (7,400). Together these three sectors accounted for 46 percent of all job openings statewide. Despite big vacancy totals in a few sectors, hiring demand was widespread across the economy. All sectors, except the relatively small information industry, reported at least 1,000 job vacancies at any given time in the year.
Employers were hiring for a wide variety of jobs; they reported vacancies across 394 different occupations. Occupations with the highest number of job vacancies in 2019 reflected this variety. They included retail salespersons (2,300); personal care aides (2,200 vacancies); laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (1,600); heavy truck drivers (1,600); cashiers (1,400); fast food and counter workers (1,300); and registered nurses (1,200).

To learn more, read economist Jessica Nelson's full article here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Nearly One Out of Four Workers in Oregon is 55 or Older

Oregon’s workforce is aging. The number of Oregon jobs held by workers age 55 and over more than tripled from 1992 to 2018, while the total number of jobs grew by just over 50 percent. Workers 55 years and over held just 10 percent of the jobs in 1992. By 2018, that share increased to 23 percent. Driving this trend is the fact that much of the Baby Boomer Generation is now 55 and over, and they are more likely to be in the labor force than previous generations were at this age. Many of these workers are probably planning to retire in the next 10 years, taking their skills and experience with them. Although the aging workforce is a general demographic trend, it impacts employers, industries, and regions to varying degrees.

Industry age profiles vary from the relatively young accommodation and food services sector where just 15 percent of workers are 55 and over to the relatively old mining and quarrying sector where 32 percent of workers are 55 and over. Although natural resources and utilities have high concentrations of older workers, they employ fewer workers than many industries and will require relatively few replacement workers. Some employers within industries with a large number of workers 55 years and older may struggle to find enough suitable workers if they don’t plan ahead. Health care (both private and public) stands out for the size of its aging workforce, with 65,000 workers age 55 and over. Other industries with a large number of workers nearing retirement age are manufacturing (48,000 workers), retail trade (44,000), and private and public educational services (42,000).

Rural Counties Have Older Workforces

Rural county workforces tend to have a higher share of older workers and will feel the impact of the aging workforce more than metro counties. In rural counties more than one out of four workers is 55 years or older. That represents approximately 84,000 workers in rural Oregon who are probably hoping to retire within the next decade.

To learn more, read workforce analyst Michael Doughty's full article here