COVID-19 Causes Spike in NW Oregon Unemployment Claims

by Shawna Sykes

April 6, 2020

For those of you who are sheltering at home to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus, THANK YOU! If you are wondering how Northwest Oregon’s labor market has been impacted, here is some recent information about unemployment insurance claims that have been processed for Northwest Oregon residents thus far. In each of the first two weeks of March, for the five-county area including Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, and Tillamook counties, there were about 180 unemployment insurance claims processed per week. By the third week of March, as mandatory closures started being enacted to curb the spread of the virus, the number of claims shot up to 1,235 claims per week. Finally, by the week of March 28th, claims processed for NW Oregon residents were up to 2,889. Keep in mind, this information is preliminary and will likely change as claims continue to be processed from this time period.

Unemployment claims processed statewide have risen from 3,600 to 3,700 per week in early March to more than 44,000 in the last week of March. There are still thousands of unemployment claims pending due to record numbers of claims filed in the past two weeks, but the agency is making great strides to increase capacity and process those claims in a timely manner.

The industry with the most unemployment insurance claims in NW Oregon in the past two weeks has been accommodation and food services as restaurants have switched to take out and delivery only or closed completely and travelers cancelled plans in order to remain at home. Claims for health care and social assistance workers were second highest as facilities began cancelling elective surgeries and laying off workers not involved in direct patient care. Retail trade had the third highest number of claims as the public began only shopping for essential goods. The construction and manufacturing sectors rounded out the industries with the most unemployment claims in Northwest Oregon since the COVID-19 crisis began.

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