Columbia Gorge Continued Unemployment Claims and Benefit Payments

by Dallas Fridley

September 2, 2020

Continued unemployment insurance claims paid to unemployed workers living in the Columbia Gorge peaked during the 17th week of 2020 (April 19-25) with just over 2,400. Continued claims reflect the current number of insured unemployed workers filing for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. COVID-19 impacts were first reflected in continued claims during week 12 (March 15-21), with the largest increase in claims following in week 13 (March 22-28). Continued claims more than doubled in week 13, rising by nearly 800 to total about 1,400. Continued claims have improved gradually since the week 17 peak, falling under 2,000 in week 24 (June 7-13) and settling in below 1,600 in week 28 (July 5-11). Continued claims remain substantially above the pre-COVID-19 level experienced one year earlier, in July 2019, and also well above the Great Recession impacts experienced in 2009 and 2010.
Benefit Payments

Workers living in the Columbia Gorge collected $10.7 million in UI benefits during June 2020. Three months earlier, back in March, Columbia Gorge workers collected just $0.7 million. Benefit payments include all regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs and all CARES Act programs except Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Over the four months impacted by COVID-19 beginning in April 2020, Columbia Gorge workers collected $36.4 million in UI Benefits. In Hood River County, unemployed workers collected $18 million or 49 percent of the Columbia Gorge total for April through July, followed closely by workers living in Wasco County, who drew $16.6 million or 45 percent. In Sherman County, unemployed workers collected $0.8 million, slightly above the total for workers living in Gilliam County, at $0.7 million. Workers living in Wheeler County collected about $0.3 million in UI benefits in April through July 2020.
Continued Claims by Industry, July 2020

Accommodation and food services led July 2020 UI claims activity in the Columbia Gorge by a wide margin, with nearly 350 unemployed workers drawing benefits. Idled health care and social assistance workers ranked second, with 230 drawing benefits, followed by 170 workers from retail trade and 160 idled in manufacturing. Continued claims in construction impacted about 100 workers in July, while arts, entertainment, and recreation also idled about 100. Other industries with a substantial number of unemployed workers drawing claims in July 2020 included other services (70); wholesale trade (70); agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (60); and administrative and waste services (60).

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