Pulse on the Pandemic in Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, and Lake Counties

by Polly Farrimond

September 11, 2020

As the unemployment rates are still at or close to the double-digit levels in Jackson, Josephine Klamath and Lake counties, we now have several months’ worth of data since the onset of the pandemic. This information allows us to better observe how the labor market has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jobs Added Back to the Workforce

With July employment estimates available we can look at the number of jobs shed during the early months of business closures and restrictions, and how many have been added back since. Using seasonally-adjusted numbers, Jackson County shed 11,630 jobs in the first 7 months of 2020. Since business restrictions have be lifted, we have seen 7,110, or 61 percent, of those jobs return to the county’s labor market.  As of July, Jackson County’s total nonfarm employment levels remain 5 percent lower than its pre-COVID peak in March 2020. 

Josephine County shed an estimated 3,400 jobs during the first months of the pandemic. The county has regained 660 jobs or 19 percent of the initial jobs lost. As of July, Josephine County has 10 percent fewer jobs than its employment peak of February 2020. Klamath County lost an estimated 2,610 jobs during the pandemic, and has since added back 540 jobs as of July. Klamath is still missing an estimated 9 percent of its March total nonfarm employment levels. Lake County lost an estimated 300 jobs and added back 30 since the July estimates came in.

Oregon’s total nonfarm employment declined nearly 14 percent, or rather 271,900 between February and April 2020. Initial losses were heaviest in industries most impacted by social distancing. Since April, Oregon has recovered 38 percent of the jobs that were lost, accounting for a total of 103,600 jobs. There is still 8.6 percent of the jobs to gain back since the peak in July. 

Total Benefits Paid

In Jackson County, the benefits paid out for regular unemployment insurance (UI) claimants have totaled $163,791,488 as of July.  In Josephine County, the total paid in UI benefits is $52,418,147. Klamath County has paid out a total of $39,662,947. Lake County’s payout has been $2,451,091 to claimants. Oregon has paid out claims that total $3,570,134,670. These dollars have been paid since March of 2020. 

The dollar amounts include the regular Unemployment Insurance programs, the various CARES Act programs, but they do not include the benefits paid out for the Pandemic Assistance program.

Initial Claims since January 2020

The total number of initial claims in Jackson County is 17,031 since January 2020. As you can see in the graph, these initial claims have slowed after May of 2020. Josephine County initial claims have been at 8,291 since the beginning of January 2020. The initial claims in Josephine County are also down since the beginning of January. Klamath County has had an estimated total of 5,350 initial claims, and Lake County has had a total of 2,715 initial claims. Both Klamath and Lake have seen a decrease of initial claims filed since January 2020. Oregon initial claims total to 495,415. As restrictions are lifted and more workers return to the work the number of initial claims will continue to be reduced.

These initial claims represent individuals who have merely filed an initial application for unemployment insurance. Whether they qualify or not does not affect these figures.
Continued Claims since January 2020

Continued Claims are claimants who have already filed an initial claim, qualified to receive UI benefits, and file a weekly claim to continue to receive benefits. Continued claims can also be referred to as insured unemployment. The count of continued claims can be a good indicator of labor market conditions. 

The graph illustrates the impact Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, and Lake counties experienced with the spike in continued claims in April and continuing thru July of 2020. Continued claims have experienced a reduction but they are still quite elevated compared to the levels prior to the pandemic. 
The industries most effected in Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake counties with these continued claims remains to be accommodation and food services, retail trade, and heath care and social assistance. 

As a point of reference Oregon continued unemployment claims totaled an estimated 777,316 since the beginning of 2020. 

In the coming months our recovery looks slow based on the pace that people are returning to the work place. There are so many unknowns and until a solution to stop the spread of COVID-19 is in place the workforce will continue to be impacted by the number of cases in the counties.

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