COVID crisis now has 333,000+ Oregonians filing unemployment claims

More than 333,000 Oregonians have filed for unemployment benefits in the last five weeks according to the state employment department.

The agency announced Thursday it received 36,700 initial claims for unemployment benefits between April 12-18, bringing the state’s 5-week total to 333,700.

The greatest number of initial claims last week continued to come from the leisure and hospitality sector (8,000), which includes hotels and restaurants, according to the agency.

This reflects the ongoing impacts of public health and safety measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the week of March 15, there have been about 60,800 initial claims filed from leisure and hospitality.

Other sectors with the largest initial claims totals for the past five weeks include health care and social assistance (30,900) and retail trade (24,300).

Every sector of the economy has seen increased claims activity though. Initial claims totaled 16,500 in professional and business services, and 18,200 in manufacturing since the week of March 15 to March 21.

Multnomah (6,800), Washington (4,000), and Lane (2,900) counties had the largest number of claims during the week of April 12 to April 18.

These three counties have consistently had the largest number of initial claims in recent weeks. More initial claims data by industry and area can be found on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page.

The Employment Department continues processing initial and ongoing unemployment benefits claims at a record pace, resulting in $119 million in benefits paid to Oregonians during the week of April 12 to April 18.

The agency continues expanding capacity for taking claims, with 520 employees now dedicated to taking unemployment claims, and additional contact center facility planning underway.

Employment Department efforts also continue toward launching the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Once open, the PUA program will provide the self-employed, contract workers, and gig workers not already eligible, along with those not usually eligible due to too few hours or earnings, and those who were going to start work but could not, with benefits never before available.

Programming, testing, and staff training for the PUA program are in progress. Upon successful testing, the Employment Department expects to open the program for applications by the end of April.

Additional information, program updates, and metrics related to the Employment Department’s ongoing response to the unprecedented need for unemployment benefits can be found on the interactive dashboard of the agency’s COVID-19 page.

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