Nearly 400,000 Oregonians now jobless due to COVID crisis

More than 14,000 Oregonians filed initial unemployment benefit claims last week bringing the statewide total to nearly 400,000 since COVID-19 business closures started in mid-March.

The Employment Department on Thursday released its weekly report, with detailed information for about 25,000 of the 32,000 initial claims processed during the week of May 3 to May 9.

The greatest number of initial claims continued to come from the accommodation and food services sector, with 68,400 initial claims filed in the industry since March 15. Other sectors with the largest number of initial claims totals since March 15 include health care and social assistance (43,100) and retail trade (36,400). However, every sector of the economy has seen increased claims activity.

Multnomah (5,500), Washington (3,200), and Clackamas (2,400) counties had the largest number of claims during the week of May 3 to May 9.

More initial claims data by industry and area can be found on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page.

The Oregon Employment Department said nearly nine out of 10 (86%) initial claims for regular unemployment benefits received between March 15 and May 9 have been processed. For each of the past five weeks, more claims for regular benefits have been processed than received in Oregon.

If measured by dollars paid, Unemployment Insurance would now be the largest paying subsector of Oregon’s economy. By comparison, unemployment benefits would have ranked 37th by payroll prior to the COVID-19 closures.

Still, tens of thousands of unemployment claims remain unprocessed, and some have been waiting for benefits for six or seven weeks.

The Employment Department recognizes the importance to getting benefits to everyone who needs them.

The agency continues expanding its capacity, with a new contact center now open, and a total of 690 employees processing claims.

Claims processing continues seven days per week. The Employment Department also continues to make thousands of call-backs every day to Oregonians who need to have their claims processed.

Initial unemployment claims data will continue to be updated each Thursday on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page.

Information about new unemployment benefit programs, questions about resuming business operations, and other resources continue to be updated regularly on the Employment Department’s COVID-19 page.

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