Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Unemployment Insurance Recipients in 2011
by Mary Bernert
Published Apr-24-2012

 
Oregon's unemployment rate remained in double digits through most of 2011. Though the recession officially ended in June 2009, post-recession job growth was anemic, and unemployment insurance (UI) claims remained at high levels.

The level of UI recipients is historically high due in part to the 73 weeks of extension benefits available to most claimants. During non-recessionary years, most claimants qualify for only 26 weeks of benefits. Regular claim levels were high, but declined over the year. This indicates that newly unemployed were getting back to work, but the long-term unemployed were still struggling. In 2011, 42 percent of claimants were compensated for six or fewer months on their claim, while 58 percent received benefits for longer periods. By the end of 2011, over 50,000 people had exhasuted all of their benefits since 2009. Though this number is very high, it represents only 7 percent of those who started a claim and could have exhausted 99 weeks of benefits since 2008. Many claimants are still eligible to claim benefits on older claims, so this percentage is preliminary.

Graph 1
Duration of unemployment claims in 2011
Who Received a UI Benefit in 2011?
 
In 2011, 326,766 people received more than $1.9 billion in unemployment insurance benefits in Oregon. This was a reduction of more than $800 million from the record amount of benefits paid in 2010.

According to the Current Population Survey, men make up between 52 percent and 54 percent of the Oregon labor force. In contrast, 60 percent of UI recipients in 2011 were male. The percentage of male recipients rose from 2006 through 2009, and then dropped from 64 percent in 2009 to 60 percent in 2011.

The growth in the share of men receiving benefits reflects the deep employment cuts in these male-dominated industries early in the recession. In 2009, the share of recipients whose last major employment was in the construction or manufacturing industry was 15 percent and 23 percent, respectively. These percentages dropped to near pre-recessionary shares of 14 percent and 15 percent in 2011. This trend can also be seen in data from a monthly Employment and Training Administration (ETA) report. Graph 2 shows the trends in unemployed from these industries from 2001 through 2011. At the same time, two female-dominated industries - health care and social assistance, and accommodation and food services - saw shares grow from 6 percent and 7 percent in 2009 to 9 percent and 8 percent in 2011, which are closer to pre-recessionary levels.

The percentage of claimants who are ages 60 and over has continued to grow. Before this recession this age group made up around 1 percent of claimants. In 2011, 12 percent of claimants were ages 60 and over. The highest levels of unemployment for those ages 60 and over were in rural Oregon.

The majority of claimants have a high school diploma or less. Though the industries that have been more heavily hit during this recession have been those that rely on workers with on-the-job training, workers with higher education have not been immune - nearly 15 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits had a bachelors degree or higher. The percentage of college educated unemployed has grown as the recovery has stalled.

Graph 2
Regular unemployment claims from construction and manufacturing
Conclusion
 
With recent anemic job growth, unemployment insurance claims have remained at record levels. In 2011, six out of 10 UI claimants were male, attesting to the hard hit male-dominated industries took during the recession. The share of claimants ages 60 and over also increased in recent years, and these older claimants made up over 12 percent of UI recipients in 2011.

Unemployment Insurance Data
 
This analysis is based on data for every UI benefit recipient who also received a 1099g from the Oregon Employment Department. The form 1099g is a tax record, like a W2 for wages which shows how much was paid to the individual during the calendar year. This file is used because every individual is represented only once.

The unemployment insurance program has numerous reports that come out weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually. One of the monthly reports is on the demographics of claimants on regular benefits who were unemployed during the week of the 12th of the month. Regular benefits are the benefits available to all covered employees during all periods. Looking at regular claim activity allows you to compare claim trends during periods when there are and are not extension programs. Data from this report is used to underscore some of the trends observed in comparisons between the 1099g data.