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Southern Oregon continued to create jobs through February, then the coronavirus happened

The latest report from Oregon's Employment Department showed gains through the end of February, but the initial reports from March are not encouraging.

Posted: Mar 31, 2020 10:51 AM
Updated: Apr 1, 2020 3:32 PM

SALEM, Ore. — After a long period of job growth and low unemployment, Josephine and Jackson counties continued to add new jobs through the end of February, according to the latest numbers from the Oregon Employment Department (OED). However, the early outlook for March shows a statewide about-face.

In February, Josephine County's payroll employment rose by a net 80 jobs, primarily in retail and construction. Over the past year, the county added 500 jobs in total — particularly in private education and health services, professional and business services, and government employment.

Jackson County saw an even more dramatic gain in February, adding 500 jobs in that month alone. Most of those jobs were in leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, private education and health services, and government employment through education. Over the past year, Jackson County added a net 250 jobs as gains in some industries offset losses in others.


RELATED: Oregon eases unemployment requirements as COVID-19 response causes lay-off boom


Klamath County’s seasonally adjusted February unemployment rate of 6.1 percent changed little from January, though it was down significantly from 7 percent in February 2019. The Department’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Lake County dropped to 4.4 percent in February, down from 6.4 percent in February 2019.

Curry County’s total payroll employment added 80 jobs in February over January.

But, as OED heralded in earlier statements, COVID-19 and the state's response to it have caused an unprecedented bloom in job loss, unemployment, and underemployment.

“As the realities of the COVID-19 restrictions take hold of the local economy, we look back on employment and unemployment estimates from February," OED said in a preface to its report. "Despite these month-old estimates seeming outdated, they will provide an important baseline for us as we begin to see job losses reported in these formal employment and unemployment estimates moving forward. We will likely look back at these February 2020 estimates as the peak of our most recent expansion.”

During the week of March 15-21, OED says it processed around 22,800 unemployment insurance claims — four times the week immediately prior, which had 4,900 claims.

"The department received a total of 76,500 claims online and by phone, around 20 times the workload experienced in a typical week," OED said.


RELATED: Oregon received more than 76,500 unemployment claims last week


The agency has had to scramble in order to redeploy staff, open up more phone lines, and hire more employees to respond. OED says it is still offering job seeker and employer services with additional, socially distanced options.

"We are present to help Oregonians who have experienced tremendous disruptions, while also doing our part to follow health and safety guidelines for our communities," the agency said.

The employment figures for March at the county and city level won't be released until April 21, with statewide data expected by the week before that. Inevitably, job losses and unemployment claims will continue to mount over the remainder of March.

A few industries have been able to continue hiring amid the coronavirus pandemic, namely those considered essential or front-line services under the current state restrictions. Fred Meyer signaled on Friday that it had hired 1,000 new workers in the Pacific Northwest, with plans to hire more.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 224547

Reported Deaths: 2877
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah42425618
Washington28176259
Marion24842333
Clackamas20349243
Lane15401176
Jackson13240160
Deschutes1074187
Umatilla988394
Linn644882
Yamhill515882
Klamath498279
Douglas479594
Polk440457
Josephine438076
Malheur370967
Benton354822
Jefferson252842
Coos241040
Columbia213732
Union175924
Wasco160631
Lincoln159122
Crook144724
Hood River128934
Morrow125017
Clatsop123711
Baker116018
Curry86512
Tillamook7985
Grant5657
Lake4868
Harney46611
Wallowa2486
Gilliam881
Sherman872
Wheeler491
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4003787

Reported Deaths: 64620
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles131165624721
Riverside3112424667
San Bernardino3095025265
San Diego3011003805
Orange2856205146
Santa Clara1245862183
Sacramento1178311790
Kern1143421428
Fresno1057321746
Alameda980131290
Ventura845891046
Contra Costa78084836
San Joaquin776151461
Stanislaus666191097
Tulare50731854
San Mateo45255588
Monterey44651528
San Francisco41758565
Solano36525261
Santa Barbara36106469
Sonoma33414331
Merced33321485
Imperial29333746
Placer25624307
Kings23790251
San Luis Obispo22356267
Madera17220249
Santa Cruz16779207
Yolo15149215
Marin15039243
Butte13523205
Shasta13179242
El Dorado11312121
Napa1055282
Sutter10343127
Yuba712950
San Benito632664
Tehama592766
Lassen590526
Nevada568575
Humboldt535154
Mendocino485652
Tuolumne469173
Lake440866
Amador395348
Siskiyou259640
Glenn248127
Colusa238118
Calaveras235658
Del Norte174710
Inyo148238
Mono13395
Plumas7926
Modoc5767
Mariposa5377
Trinity4696
Sierra1370
Alpine910
Unassigned810
Medford
Partly Cloudy
67° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 67°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
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Crater Lake
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 51°
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Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
67° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
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Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 74° Lo: 53°
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