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Largest gains were in leisure and hospitality as well as government, retail and health care

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Oregon's leisure and hospitality industry, which includes restaurants such as Ron's Comfort Food Cafe, have seen the greatest employment gains since the pandemic restart.

A glimmer of hope is peeking through the turbulent clouds of Oregon's plunging employment rates since March 2020.

Several employment sectors showed modest gains in job recovery between June and July 2020. Oregon's total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 20,500 jobs in July, following a gain of 57,000 jobs in June. Over the past three months, employers added back 38 percent of the jobs that were cut in March and April.

Over-the-month job gains in July were largest in leisure and hospitality (+7,300 jobs); government (+5,700); retail trade (+3,600); health care and social assistance (+3,100); and professional and business services (+1,900).

Leisure and hospitality include hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, as well as arts and recreation.

"Employment just dropped tremendously — mostly in April," commented State of Oregon Employment Department Economist David Cooke, regarding the leisure and hospitality sector.

Leisure and hospitality suffered by far the largest job loss during March and April, shedding 118,700 jobs during the outset of the pandemic-induced drop in business. Then, between April and July, the industry regained half of the loss, as it rebounded by 58,900 jobs over the past three months.

Between July 2019 and July 2020, there was a drop of 58,100 jobs in leisure and hospitality. However, between June and July of this year, the secctor gained 7,300 jobs.

Meanwhile, three of the major industries cut a substantial number of jobs in July: construction (-1,900 jobs); manufacturing (-1,500); and information (-1,200). Over the past five months, the major industries were impacted differently by the pandemic.

"One of the things that we looked at is manufacturing, because the employment has not come back in manufacturing like it has in some of the other industries," added Cooke.

He pointed out that looking at the over-year changes from July 2019 to 2020 in manufacturing, all showed a decline in all of their sectors. The overall loss over the past year in manufacturing overall was 17,300.

"We know that there have been some big changes in activities, and certain industries are doing OK — but a lot of them are seeing substantially less demand due to the pandemic. It looks like Oregon manufacturing industries,most have cut jobs over the year and jobs haven't been coming back the last three months like some industries," he said.

The categories include durable and non-durable manufacturing. The industries noted were wood products manufacturing, primary and fabricated metal manufacturing, machinery manufacturing, computer and electronic products and transportation equipment manufacturing.

Three industries regained more than half of their lost jobs. Health care and social assistance regained two-thirds of its lost jobs, with a rebound of 18,700 jobs over the past three months. During that time, two industries regained nearly two-thirds of their lost jobs: other services (+9,300 jobs, or a 63% rebound) and retail trade (+13,900 jobs, or 62%).

However, several key industries experienced substantial job losses in March and April but have not rebounded substantially or have even declined further over the past three months. The following Oregon industries shed jobs between April and July: government (-5,200 jobs); manufacturing (-3,100); and information (-1,900).

Most of the other major industries have regained fewer than 5,000 jobs each over the past three months while regaining less than a third of jobs lost during March and April. These industries include construction; financial activities; private education; professional and business services; and transportation, warehousing, and utilities.

"Construction really held up pretty well in March and April compared to most industries, but then it really hasn't rebounded from the April employment numbers," indicated Cooke. "Nationally, residential construction really picked back up in the latest numbers in July — the number of building permits."

He added that the residential permits are relatively strong in Oregon, which has helped to keep the construction employment propped up.

In health care, with many doctor's offices closed in April and May — as well elective surgeries temporarily put on hold — the industry temporarily lost many jobs. They regained two-thirds of these jobs in the past three months.

"Health care has come back most of the way," said Cooke.

Private colleges, universities and public and private education were down considerably since last year. Cooke commented that the outcome of the pandemic will determine the employment of staff like janitors and support staff.

Oregon's unemployment rate dropped to 10.4 percent in July from 11.6 percent, as revised, in June. In July, Oregon's unemployment rate was close to the U.S. unemployment rate; the U.S. rate dropped to 10.2 percent in July from 11.1 percent in June.


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