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A weekly report paints a dire picture, with a record number of unemployment claims statewide in Oregon.

COURTESY GRAPHIC: OREGON EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT - Initial unemployment claims increased more than fivefold from the previous week during the week that ended March 21. That period does not encompass Gov. Kate Brown's stay-at-home order, which wasn't issued until March 23.Washington County reported 2,103 initial unemployment claims from March 15 to March 21. That's more unemployment claims than the county received for the entire month of January, and up sharply from the 403 unemployment claims the previous week of March 8 to March 14.

Only Multnomah County reported more unemployment claims during the week.

Statewide, the department processed around 22,800 unemployment claims, more than four times the 4,900 claims processed the week prior. The department received 76,500 new claims online and by phone, around 20 times the workload experienced in a typical week, the Tuesday press release notes.

At the peak of the Great Recession, weekly claims for unemployment topped out at 20,916 for the week ending Dec. 27, 2008, according to Employment Department data.

Gov. Kate Brown did not issue her executive order closing "non-essential" businesses and ordering Oregonians to stay home until March 23.

"During the first three days of the week of March 22, initial claims have been tracking at record levels again," the Oregon Employment Department noted.

Per the jobs report: "The Employment Department is rapidly redeploying its staff, opening additional phone lines, and hiring new staff in an attempt to address this unprecedented surge in claims. The department is still offering job seeker and employer services with additional, socially distanced options. We are present to help Oregonians who have experienced tremendous disruptions, while also doing our part to follow health and safety guidelines for our communities."

Additional information about unemployment insurance benefits can be accessed on the Employment Department's website.

The Employment Department anticipates releasing data about the economic impact from COVID-19 in May. The availability of data showing the state of the economy lags by a period of weeks to months, per the department.


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