Numbers Show Oregon Businesses Hit Hard, Unemployment Soars

  A new survey by Business Oregon, Travel Oregon and the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network revealed that 70% of business owners in Oregon are reporting a decrease in sales since the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. The survey included 5,000 Oregon businesses. 

Unemployment: Per the results, 27% of businesses have laid off employees, while 44% have cut employee hours. Similar statistics from the Oregon Employment Department revealed in April that within the first 5 weeks of the state-ordered lockdown, 12% of the total workforce had filed for unemployment. 

As of today, U.S. News reported that America’s unemployment rate has reached nearly 15% of the total population, with 33 million jobs lost due to the pandemic, leaving 14.7% unemployed. This marks the highest rate of unemployment in the country since the Great Depression. 

Meanwhile, Oregon has begun easing some of the restrictions placed on citizens and businesses, phasing in openings of state parks, select establishments, and other recreational sites. 

Oregon businesses hit hard: 40% of businesses in Oregon closed temporarily, while around 2% were permanently shut down. The rates were higher in rural areas, where 45% of businesses temporarily closed and 3% permanently closed. 

The survey further concluded that 28% of Oregon businesses saw profits drop 90% year-over-year in the month of April. 

Telecommuting statistics: Virtual access and teleconferencing kept 33% of business employees working remotely. 85% of information workers, 66% of business services, and 61% of financial activities employees were the lead categories of remote work. The lowest categories were restaurant and food service employees at 6% and accommodations employees at 7%. 

New Benton County Loan Program: In Benton County, loans are now available to small businesses through a new emergency loan fund coordinated by the Corvallis-Benton County Economic Development Office.  

The loans will assist businesses suffering economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds include $100,000 from Benton County and $50,000 from Community Lending Works, a local nonprofit.  

Applications are open now through Friday, May 15 at 11:59 p.m. 

Eligible businesses must be: immediately impacted by public health restrictions; headquartered in Benton County; have fewer than 40 employees as of 12/31/2019; and have been generally stable/strong prior to the crisis. 

Application links and materials can be found here. 

By Stevie Beisswanger