NW Oregon Leisure and Hospitality, Hard Hit by COVID-19, Has Regained Some Jobs

by Shawna Sykes

August 6, 2020

With an average of more than 17,000 jobs within Northwest Oregon in 2019, the leisure and hospitality industry made up over 16 percent of the region’s nonfarm employment. This sector includes full-service and fast food restaurants, bars, taverns, and other food service businesses, hotels, motels, campgrounds and other accommodations, as well as arts, entertainment, and recreation businesses. When COVID-19 hit Oregon and safety measures were implemented, NW Oregon’s leisure employment fell by 61 percent (9,840 jobs) within one month’s time. In the past two months, the industry has added back nearly 4,700 jobs in the area, but is still about 40 percent below last June’s employment level.
 
Benton County reached a record high employment in its leisure and hospitality sector in October 2019 at 4,440. Due to COVID-19, by April 2020 it had fallen to 1,690 jobs (-62%). Since then, it has added back 450 jobs (+27%). Annual employment in 2019 was 4,340, highest in this time series going back to 2001. Leisure and hospitality made up about 10 percent of the county’s nonfarm employment in 2019. As of June 2020, that share had dropped to 5.3 percent, and was down 51.3 percent since June 2019.

Clatsop County’s leisure sector also reached record high employment in 2019, peaking with the summer tourism rush in July at 5,690 jobs. The slow winter season brought a large seasonal drop to 4,350 jobs (-24%) in January 2020. After slight increases in February and March, leisure jobs in the county plummeted by 61 percent (-2,790 jobs) as stay-at-home orders were put in place. Since that time, leisure employment has grown by an estimated 1,580 jobs (+88%) to its June level of 3,380 jobs. Leisure and hospitality made up about 26 percent of the county’s nonfarm employment in 2019 with an estimated 4,970 jobs annually. As of June 2020, that share had dropped to 21 percent, and was down 37 percent since June 2019.

In Columbia County, leisure and hospitality made up over 12 percent of nonfarm employment in 2019 with 1,430 jobs. The sector reached its highest level in recent history in July 2019, with an estimated 1,510 jobs. Leisure jobs had fallen by about 8 percent (-120) by February, but once COVID-19 hit, another 780 leisure jobs were lost (-56%). Since then, the county has added back an estimated 490 leisure jobs (+79%) but is still down by 350 jobs since this time last year.

Lincoln County’s leisure industry employment reached an all-time high in 2019, peaking in July with an estimated 5,370 jobs. By January 2020, leisure had dropped by 1,170 jobs, similar to winters past. After a slight uptick in February and March, leisure jobs fell by 65 percent (-2,850) once COVID-19 hit the county. The industry has rebounded some, adding back an estimated 1,790 jobs by June, but is still down 37 percent since year-ago levels. Food services and drinking places has been hit the hardest, down 53 percent since last June, while accommodations is down by 19 percent. Leisure and hospitality made up 26 percent of the county’s nonfarm employment in 2019 with an estimated 4,760 jobs annually. As of June 2020, that share had dropped to 20 percent, and was down 37 percent since June 2019.

Leisure and hospitality employment in Tillamook County, like the other NW Oregon counties, reached an all-time high level in 2019, peaking in August with 1,820 jobs. By January 2020, employment in the sector had taken a seasonal dip to 1,370 jobs. After a slight rise in February and March, leisure jobs plunged 60 percent (-870 jobs). Since that time, leisure jobs have grown by 430 jobs (+75%) to an estimated 1,000 jobs. The industry’s employment is still down about 40 percent since June of last year. Food services and drinking places has lost the largest number of jobs since this time last year, down 340 jobs. However accommodations has also been affected greatly, down 50 percent (-300 jobs). Tillamook’s leisure and hospitality industry made up over 16 percent of the county’s total nonfarm employment in 2019 with an estimated 1,560 jobs annually. As of June 2020, the industry’s share of employment had dropped to 12 percent.


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