Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Turning Point 2020: Oregon's Workforce from Expansion to Pandemic

The Oregon Employment Department Research section released its latest report, Turning Point 2020: Oregon's Workforce from Expansion to Pandemic in June 2020. The report examines Oregon's employment landscape from the end of the state's longest economic expansion to the beginning of COVID-19 related record job losses.  Here is an executive summary:

• 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.

• Oregon’s payroll employers shed nearly 270,000 jobs during March and April. One out of every eight jobs in Oregon was idled or lost in just two months.

• From March 15 through May 16, 2020, the Oregon Employment Department received about 412,000 initial claims for traditional Unemployment Insurance. Job losses were concentrated among younger, lower-wage workers with high school educations or less.

• Oregon’s economy faces many of the same demographic challenges seen across the nation, such as the aging of the workforce and baby boomer retirements, fewer young people participating in the labor force, and slower job growth in rural areas.

• The number of unemployed Oregonians was at a record low in early 2020 – still, amidst the lowest unemployment rates on record in Oregon, one out of five unemployed Oregonians had been unemployed for six months or longer.

• Today, nearly one out of four Oregon workers is age 55 or older, adding up to nearly 439,000 workers in 2018. Of those workers 124,000 were age 65 years and older and working past the traditional age of retirement.

• Oregon’s rural areas tend to have an older population and workforce. Many of these workers are planning to retire in the next 10 years, taking their skills and experience with them. This will adversely impact employers unless they can recruit skilled workers from other areas to sustain the size of their current workforce and fuel their local economies.

• By 2019 the number of jobs in rural Oregon had barely budged above the levels seen back in 2001; rural Oregon gained just 16,000 jobs, adding 7 percent. The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metro outpaced the rest of the state, with a 25 percent gain between 2001 and 2019, amounting to an additional 247,000 jobs. All other metro areas combined gained 23 percent, adding 117,000 jobs.

To learn more about this turning point in our economy, read the full report here

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