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State Employment Department hiring more staff to handled expected influx of claims.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Keen Footwear boards up their downtown store due to the stay at home order during the COVID-19 crisis. About 90,000 Oregon workers have filed for unemployment in late March.More than 90,000 Oregon workers filed for unemployment benefits during late March.

Oregon's Employment Department said that during the week of March 22, about 92,700 initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits were filed. That's a 21 percent increase from the previous record during the week of March 15. It's also a striking increase from the 4,900 claims filed the week of March 8.

Department officials said the claims were the result of the COVID-19 economic shutdown. Officials said the state has detailed information for 45,800 of the claims processed during the week of March 22.

Hardest hit by the shutdown were the leisure and hospitality industry, which includes hotels and restaurants. That industry's 15,500 claims was the largest in the state. Other industries with large numbers of unemployment claims were health care and social assistance (7,600) and retail trade (4,600).

Multnomah County had the largest number of claims (10,900). Washington county had 5,300 claims. Lane County saw 4,200 claims. The largest percentage increases in initial claims were in Harney and Tillamook counties.

To handle the extra work load, the employment department doubled its claims staff. It plans to triple the staff.


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