March 26, 2020 10:00 a.m.
During the week of March 15th, the Oregon Employment Department received a record number of initial claims for unemployment.
Over 76,500 were turned in. So far this week, initial claims have been tracking at record levels again. This comes as a sharp increase from the 4,900 initial claims filed for the week of March 8th. A release said the Employment Department is taking several measures to meet the unprecedented need for unemployment benefits, which is largely due to reduced hours and layoffs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The release said the department has been proactive in its response to an abrupt disruption in the economy by enhancing the performance and stability of its online claim system. Over the past two weeks, the agency also hired new employees, shifted existing staff working in other program areas, and trained them. This doubled the number of employees processing unemployment claims. The release said more employees will be added and more trained in the coming weeks.
Oregonians who have lost their jobs should file job claims using the online system: https://secure.emp.state.or.us/ocs4/index.cfm?u=F20200311A102721B68861123.9417&lang=E to lower wait times by phone.
The department also continues to offer job seeker and employment services: https://www.oregon.gov/employ/Documents/WSO-COVID_practices.pdf including more phone and virtual options for appropriate social distancing.
Of the initial claims filed last week, the leisure and hospitality sector saw the greatest number of claims at 10,700. This reflects some of the early impact of public health and safety measures. 2,100 claims came from workers in health care while 1,400 were in retail trade.
Multnomah, Washington, and Lane counties had the largest number of processed claims during the week of March 15th. The largest increases in initial claims occurred in Union and Clatsop counties. 385 initial unemployment claims were filed by residents in Douglas County.