Oregon releases (un)employment data by county and region
Every county is urting economically but Oregon's coast is hurting the most. As travel and hospitality have been decimated by the coronavirus shutdown and social distancing and hygiene restrictions, Lincoln County experienced the largest over-the-month increase at 21.5 percentage points and registered the highest unemployment rate in the state for the month at 26.2 percent.
Eighteen counties had unemployment rates below the national unadjusted rate of 14.4 percent. Nineteen counties also had unemployment rates at or below the statewide unadjusted rate of 14.8 percent.
The largest total nonfarm payroll employment declines in Oregon's six broad regions between April 2019 and April 2020 were The Willamette Valley region (-12.9%), Southern Oregon (-12.3%), losses occurred in the Coast region (-19.7%) and Central Oregon (-14.7%). The Portland area (-9.7%) also experienced large over-the-year employment losses.
The state works from a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of random households and businesses ("establishment"), asking people if they have been employed during a certain week, or cut jobs during a payroll period, of the relevant month.
Anna Johnson, Senior Economic Analyst at the Oregon Employment Department's research division, told Pamplin Media that the Oregon coast has been hardest hit because its economy is "tourist-heavy. Counties are being hit hard by the closure of restaurants and hotels. Our March data didn't show much of an impact of COVID-19 public health measures," said Johnson.
In March 2020 the data covered the week of the 12th, just before the Governor's public health measure kicked in. The April data gives a clearer picture of life right now in Oregon.
"We were expecting this but it's still brutal to see it on paper and know it's happening to people all over the state," said Johnson.
She says it is hard to predict what May's numbers will be like, because there are two conflicting forces right now: counties are opening their businesses back up, but initial jobless claims are still coming in.
"It's still looking like people are losing their jobs."
The state tracks initial jobless claims because they are a leading indicator.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits include people who file and are still waiting for money. The claims are the best guide to what was called "Employment Growth" during boom times but is now called "Employment Change" and is measured on graphs in the negative axis.
The employment department's website dashboard says Oregon has processed 90 percent of claims, although that does not mean the money has reached the claimant.
Oregon itself is has a slightly lower unemployment rate (14.2%) than the national rate (14.4%).
Wheeler County had Oregon's lowest not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 5.8 percent.
The May data will be released on Tuesday June 23, 2020.
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