Douglas County Unemployment Insurance Claims Climb Sharply

by Brian Rooney

May 21, 2020

Measures taken to curtail the spread of COVID-19 have caused unemployment insurance claims to rise sharply. For the week ending May 9, 2020, the Oregon Employment Department received 14,100 initial claims for unemployment benefits, down from the previous week’s 19,600 claims and well down from the all-time weekly initial claim high of 88,600 the week ending March 28. The Employment Department has received 396,000 claims since COVID-19 businesses closures began in mid-March. There were roughly 4,000 claims per week leading up to mid-March. This is an unprecedented increase in demand for unemployment insurance benefits that has overwhelmed the system in place to deal with claims. In response to the increase, the Employment Department has increased the number of workers trained to process initial clams, going from 105 on March 8 to 690 by May 3, greatly increasing the ability to process claims.

The Employment Department has detailed information on processed claims including the county and industry of the worker making the claim. In Douglas County, 819 claims were processed for the week ending May 9. This compares with 107 processed claims for the week ending March 14, but is down from the record of 1,353 processed claims for the week ended April 4. For the eight weeks ending May 9, 6,993 claims were processed for Douglas County residents, a little over 2 percent of the statewide total of processed claims.

Three industries make up 56 percent of the processed claims in Douglas County. As would be expected, accommodation and food services has the most processed claims over the eight-week period with 1,657, or 24 percent. Restaurants and bars had an early and almost complete shutdown.
Manufacturing was second at 1,153 claims, or 17 percent. Media reports show that some manufacturing cannot practice social distancing and still others are curtailing operations because of a drop in demand.

The third highest industry is health care and social assistance with 1,131 claims, or 16 percent of the total. Dental offices and nonessential health care have been impacted.

The Oregon Employment Department will be releasing initial claims data every Thursday for the foreseeable future. It and other COVID-19 related employment information can be found on our COVID-19 page on QualityInfo.org.


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