Columbia Gorge COVID-19: 18-weeks of Initial Claims ActivityAugust 6, 2020 Initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in the Columbia Gorge reached nearly 5,000 over the 18-week period from March 15 to July 18. COVID-19 business closures began in mid-March with nearly 1,500 claims during the first three weeks (March 15th to April 4th) and a low of around 300 claims filed over the most recent three-week period (June 28th to July 18th).
At the county level, Hood River’s initial claims reached just over 2,600 or 52 percent of the area’s total. Wasco County’s initial claims totaled about 2,300 or 46 percent of all claims processed for the Columbia Gorge. Gilliam, Sherman, and Wheeler counties together totaled 150 initial claims, about 3 percent.
As initial claims activity fell, the industry profile shifted. During the first three-week period (March 15th to April 4th), initial claims from accommodation and food services totaled 450 or 30 percent of the area’s 1,460 total. Accommodation and food services fell to 22 percent of initial claims (270) during the 2nd three-week period (April 11th to April 25th), just ahead of health care and social assistance with 21 percent (260) of claims. Over the next 12 weeks (April 26th to July 18th), initial claims from health care and social assistance totaled 560 or 25 percent of the Columbia Gorge total, while accommodation and food services rose by an additional 300. In aggregate, initial claims from health care and social assistance totaled about 1,110, while accommodation and food services reached 1,010. Initial claims from retail trade totaled 500 over the 18-week period, followed by manufacturing with 470.
Ranked by industry, health care and social assistance represented 22 percent of the area’s initial unemployment insurance claims from March 15 to July 18, followed by accommodation and food services with one out of five. Retail trade (10%); manufacturing (9%); and agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (7%) rounded out the top five industries, representing 25 percent of the area’s initial claims combined. Construction (300); wholesale trade (230); arts, entertainment, and recreation (210); and other services (160) also produced a significant number of initial claims.