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August unemployment rate drops to 7.7% as key industries add employees back to their payrolls.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Oregon's restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels have added back a large part of the jobs they lost during the past four months because of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.Oregon's restaurants and bars, retail stores and construction companies have returned thousands of jobs to their payrolls, dropping the state's August unemployment rate to 7.7%. That's down from 10.4% in July.

State employment officials said Tuesday, Sept. 15, that employers added about 11,300 jobs in August, following a gain of 17,700 jobs in July. Since May, employers added 41% of the jobs cut in March and April because of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Tuesday's unemployment announcement didn't include impacts from the nearly dozen wildfires raging in the region. Several Willamette Valley cities and towns have been devastated by the fires. Evacuations also forced businesses to close in the region.

State officials said August's largest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (up 4,200 jobs), retail trade (up 3,300), construction (up 3,200) and government (up 3,000). Wholesale trade (down 1,400 jobs) and health care and social assistance (down 1,400) cut jobs in August.

Statewide, restaurants, bars, pubs, hotels and recreational industries added back a large part of the jobs lost during the past four months. The industries are still only about halfway back to their February peak employment levels. Retail businesses have added about three-quarters of the jobs they lost in the pandemic shutdown.

The health care industry has added back employees despite a 1,400-job loss in August.

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