Even though many workers in Columbia County and across the state are expected to return to their jobs in the next several weeks under Oregon's Reopening Plan, unemployment claims continue to rise.
During the week of April 26 to May 2, the Oregon Employment Department received 19,600 initial claims for unemployment benefits. The agency has received more than 381,800 initial claims since COVID-19 businesses closures began in mid-March.
Four out of five (83%) initial claims for regular unemployment benefits received between March 15 and May 2 have been processed. For each of the past four weeks, more claims have been processed than received in Oregon.
The Employment Department has also processed more than 10,000 applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for the self-employed, contract, gig, and other workers not eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
The agency officials said they continue to expand the employment department's ability to process more claims for unemployment benefits. There are currently 635 employees working unemployment claims, with more hiring underway and a new contact center opening next week. Claims processing continues seven days per week.
In addition to more staffing, Employment Department officials said they agency also continues working to implement more unemployment benefit programs.
Programming and testing is underway for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. This provides up to 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits for those who have run out of benefits and remain out of work due to COVID-19 business closures. Program eligibility and more details for this and other programs are available in the CARES Act section of the agency’s COVID-19 page.
In a releases, the Oregon Employment Department said details about 30,300 of the 45,100 initial claims processed during the week of April 26 to May 2 show that the greatest number of initial claims continued to come from the accommodation and food services sector, with 64,700 initial claims filed in the industry since March 15. Other sectors with the largest initial claims totals since March 15 include health care and social assistance (39,700) and retail trade (33,100).
Every sector of the economy has seen increased claims activity. Accommodation and food services’ share of total claims is declining, although the industry still accounts for 28 percent of initial claims since mid-March. Shares of total initial claims are increasing in retail trade, manufacturing, administrative and waste services, and wholesale trade.
Multnomah (6,500), Washington (3,900), and Clackamas (2,900) counties had the largest number of claims during the week of April 26 to May 2. More initial claims data by industry and area can be found on the QualityInfo.org COVID-19 page.
How to file a claim or find a job
To file an online claim for unemployment benefits, go to Oregon.gov/employ or call 1-877-FILE-4-UI. For help finding jobs and training resources, contact your local WorkSource Oregon center or go to WorkSourceOregon.org. Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: 503-947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.