Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Disparate Impact: COVID-19 Job Losses by Sector and Gender in Oregon

Every recession is unique, with varying impacts on workers in different parts of the economy. The dot com recession in 2001 hit high-tech harder than other sectors. Construction bore the hardest brunt of job losses during the Great Recession. Eight months into the COVID-19 downturn, we're seeing yet another unique set of disparate impacts in Oregon and nationwide.

Initial Impact
In March and April, Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 271,900, or 13.8 percent. That equates to one out of every eight jobs in the state – a stunning and unparalleled rate of job loss over such a short period. Oregon regained nearly half (45% or 122,100) of the spring losses by September. 

Three of the state’s service-based sectors lost even larger shares of jobs. Leisure and hospitality (hotels, restaurants, and theaters) shed 118,700 jobs (more than half its employment) in March and April. Other services (automotive repair, barber shops, and beauty salons) dropped one out of every five of its 65,800 jobs (-22.3%). Private education services also saw sharp declines (-6,000 or -16.0%) as schools shuttered in the spring. While recovery is underway in each of these sectors to some degree, they remain a combined 73,600 jobs below their February level.

Second Wave of Job Losses
While most sectors are rebounding from the initial job losses, others are starting to see additional declines as COVID-19 and its economic impacts linger. The state’s corporate headquarters companies, local government, and manufacturing each had lower rates of job loss than Oregon overall in March and April. They’re still on the downward slide though. 

From May to September, manufacturing lost another 3,400 jobs, for a total decline of 8.2 percent since February. Similarly, local government – roughly half of which is K-12 and higher education – dropped by 13,600 jobs (-5.9%) in spring, and lost another 3,600 jobs since then. The large corporate management of companies sector initially lost 2,200 jobs (-4.3%), and lost another 600 since May, for a total drop of 5.5 percent.

Effects on Women
The disparate impact to sectors where more women have jobs – especially education, where women hold two out of every three jobs – is reflected in unemployment rates. Since the COVID-19 recession began in Oregon, the unemployment rate for women has consistently been 2 to 3 percentage points higher than for men. In September 2020, the unemployment rate for women was 9.6 percent, compared with 6.7 percent for men.

In addition to higher unemployment rates, women have also exited the labor force in higher numbers than men. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported women left the labor force at four times the rate of men in September 2020. Oregon has seen a similar trend to the nation, with significantly more women than men departing the labor force, particularly since the summer.

Get more information about the disparate impacts the COVID-19 in the full article, written by State Employment Economist Gail Krumenauer

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