36,700 Oregonians filed initial claims for unemployment benefits over the last week bringing the total to 333-thousand-700.
The Oregon Employment Department continues to struggle processing the high number of claims. 520 people are now working on the claims and the Employment Department is setting up a new center to expand the operation.
Employment Department efforts also continue toward launching the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Once open, the PUA program will provide the self-employed, contract workers, and gig workers not already eligible, along with those not usually eligible due to too few hours or earnings, and those who were going to start work but could not, with benefits never before available. Programming, testing, and staff training for the PUA program are in progress. Upon successful testing, the Employment Department expects to open the program for applications by the end of April.
People from the restaurant and hotel sector still make up the largest number of new filers followed by health care and retail. Multnomah, Washington and Lane counties had the highest number of new claims.