Oregon Goes From Record Low to Record High Unemployment

Public health measures implemented in March to combat the rapid spread of COVID-19 are having an unprecedented economic impact on Oregon and the United States. April provides the first full month of data measuring the initial impact on businesses and the unemployed.

“Today’s release shows that 266,600 jobs were lost in the first two months of this pandemic and the unemployment rate has reached 14.2 percent. While these numbers make for shocking historical records, they cannot totally capture the economic trauma so many Oregonians are experiencing at this time,” said Anna Johnson, Senior Economic Analyst with the Oregon Employment Department.

Oregon’s unemployment rate rose from a near-record-low 3.5 percent, as revised, in March to a record-high 14.2 percent in April, as COVID-19 business closures shut down a large portion of the economy. This is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series (comparable data are available back to 1976). The number of unemployed Oregonians rose by 227,530, to reach 300,420 in April. These sharp increases reflect the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it. The U.S. unemployment rate rose from 4.4 percent in March to 14.7 percent in April.

Oregon’s payroll employers shed 253,400 jobs in April, following a loss of 13,200, as revised, in March. In April, one out of every eight jobs in Oregon was idled or lost. Leisure and hospitality took the brunt of the impact of pandemic-induced closures. The industry lost more than half of its jobs (-54.6%) in one month. Job losses were widespread throughout the economy though. No sector in Oregon gained jobs in April. Other industries that were hardest hit in April were health care and social assistance (-26,800 jobs), retail trade (-22,500), professional and business services (-19,200), government (-13,100), other services (-12,900), construction (-12,000), and manufacturing (-11,600).

Source: Oregon Employment Department

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