Unemployment Claims Surge in Marion, Polk and Yamhill Counties

by Pat O'Connor

May 13, 2020

Measures in Oregon to limit the spread of COVID-19 have led to a sharp increase in the number of workers applying for unemployment insurance. Statewide, the Oregon Employment Department has received more than 381,800 initial claims since COVID-19 business closures began in mid-March. 

Initial unemployment claims over the past seven weeks ending May 2nd have surged in Oregon and the Willamette Valley. Since mid-March, 27,595 initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims have been processed for residents in Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties.

To put that in perspective, the three county area has a labor force of a little more than 257,000. The initial UI claims processed over the seven-week period represent nearly 11 percent of the area’s labor force.

Claims by Industry

Three industries account for half (50%) of the initial UI claims processed in Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties. As we might expect, accommodation and food services has the most claims with nearly 5,400 claims since mid-March, accounting for 20 percent of all claims. Health care and social assistance accounts for 17 percent of all claims over the past seven weeks, with 4,556 claims. Retail trade had 3,646 processed claims over this time period, representing 13 percent of all claims.
Somewhat surprisingly, the manufacturing sector in the three county area has more processed claims than retail trade. Manufacturing has had more than 3,750 processed claims since mid-March, accounting for 14 percent of all claims in Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties. In particular in Yamhill County, which has a higher concentration of manufacturing jobs compared with neighboring Marion and Polk counties, 20 percent of Yamhill County’s processed claims have been in the manufacturing sector.

The Oregon Employment Department will continue to release weekly initial claims data every Thursday for the foreseeable future.

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