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Oregon’s unemployment rate drops to 4.9%, signaling strong economic growth




Oregon’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in August, according to new data released Tuesday, an all-time low and the latest sign of state labor market tightening.

This is another significant drop in the unemployment rate and it continues an ongoing trend for workers to find jobs, said Gail Krumenauer, an economist in the Oregon Department of Employment.

Unemployment in Oregon fell from an all-time low of around 3.5% in the months leading up to the pandemic to 13.2% in April 2020, when COVID-19 hit. The state unemployment rate has rarely been below 5% in the 45 years for which Oregon has comparable records.

The unemployment rate now looks like other times in history when we had our strongest economic expansions, Krumenauer said on Tuesday.

Oregon has now recovered 72% of the jobs lost due to the pandemic. The state classifies 98,000 people as unemployed, up from 176,000 in August 2020.

The number of unemployed has declined due to a widespread labor shortage, which has squeezed employers statewide and helped raise wages. Wage gains have been particularly large recently in Oregon’s hospitality industry, where revenues have jumped 10% in the past year alone.

The delta variant of COVID-19 has alarmed economists, who fear Oregon’s unprecedented volume of infections and hospitalizations could slow the state’s recovery. But Oregon has not imposed new trade restrictions, and figures for August show hiring continued through the early stages of this most recent wave of infection.

As many as 80,000 unemployed Oregonians lost their unemployment benefits after Labor Day, the deadline for a number of federal assistance programs. That means a loss of about $ 60 million per week in aid to workers in Oregon.

Those who lost benefits included the self-employed, who do not contribute to the Unemployment Insurance trust fund but received assistance during the pandemic under temporary programs established by Congress. Last week’s benefit cliff also hit workers who had been unemployed for a long time but continued to receive help through pandemic assistance programs.

Economists believe the cut may push a small number of people back into the workforce, but believe it is unlikely to have a major impact. The number of Oregonians receiving unemployment benefits declined sharply throughout the year, even though expanded benefits were in place.

– Mike Rogoway | [email protected] | Twitter: @rogoway | 503-294-7699




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