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Coronavirus fears flip Oregon unemployment rate from 3.5% to 14.2% in eight weeks

Oregon's Employment Department released figures Tuesday, May 19, showing how bad the recession is hitting the state.

The first full month of data measuring the initial impact on businesses and the unemployed showed that Oregon's payroll employers shed 253,400 jobs in April, following a loss of 13,200, as revised, in March.

COURTESY: OREGON EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT OFFICE OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS - The graph compares employment losses in Oregon for each of the past five recessions.

April was the cruelest month for those who want to work: 266,600 jobs were lost in the first two months of this pandemic and the unemployment rate has reached 14.2%.

"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%, as revised, in March to a record-high 14.2% 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.

Oregon is fairly in line with the rest of the country. By comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate rose from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April.

No picnic

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 hard hit industries April:

• 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)

• Manufacturing (-11,600).

Wednesday, May 20, the Oregon Employment Department will release the latest economic and revenue quarterly forecast.

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