Lane 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 Lane County, 2,059 claims were processed for the week ending May 9. This compares with 350 processed claims for the week ending March 14, but is down from the record of 5,310 for the week ended April 4. For the eight weeks ending May 9, 26,226 claims were processed for Lane County residents, about 9 percent of the statewide processed claims.

Three industries make up 55 percent of the processed claims in Lane County. As would be expected, accommodation and food services has the most processed claims over the eight-week period with 5,861, or 22 percent. Restaurants and bars had an early and almost complete shutdown.

The second highest industry is health care and social assistance with 4,718 claims, or 18 percent of the total. Dental offices and nonessential health care have been impacted.

Retail trade was the third highest with 3,723, or 14 percent of processed claims. Shopping malls and some nonessential stores have curtailed operations.

Somewhat surprisingly, manufacturing (2,174) and construction (1,814) have also seen a large number of claims. Anecdotally, construction companies that do remodeling are hurt more than new construction where it is easier to practice social distancing. Some manufacturing cannot practice social distancing and still others are curtailing operations because of a drop in demand.

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


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