March employment numbers don’t yet show COVID effect

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A menu sits on a restaurant table (Public Domain Pictures/Karen Arnold)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Employment Department released new jobs numbers for the month of March Tuesday. However, the agency stressed that the figures do not take into account the substantial amount of job losses tied to COVID-19 prevention measures.

Oregon’s unemployment rate in March was 3.3%, according to the OED, which was the same total for February and January. By contrast, the national unemployment rate rose from 3.5% in February to 4.4% in March, showing the leading edge of job losses related to the pandemic as closures began to take hold around the country.

Data used for Tuesday’s report on Oregon was “collected prior to public health measures related to social distancing began on March 17,” the agency said in a release. “We expect the April data, published on May 19, to show the early effects on employment and the unemployment rate in Oregon.”

In March, there were 69,400 unemployed Oregonians, which remained near the lowest number in more than 40 years.

Total “nonfarm” payroll employment declined by 4,800 jobs in March, following a gain of 2,000 jobs in February. The three major industries that lost at least 1,000 jobs in March were leisure and hospitality (-2,000 jobs), retail trade (-1,700), and private educational services (-1,000). Only one industry gained a substantial number of jobs in March: construction (+900 jobs).

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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