Oregon’s unemployment rate did not change much from January to February, falling from 6.2% to 6.1%. However, there was encouraging data from the Oregon Employment Department that shows more women have returned to work and that the worst hit businesses in the state are adding more jobs, among other things.
February numbers aren’t available at this time, but as of December of 2020, the unemployment rate for Benton County is 4% and for Corvallis is 3.9%. Linn County stood at 6%, Lane County at 5.7%, and Lincoln County at 7.8%.
While the leisure and hospitality sector throughout the state are still missing tens of thousands of jobs from before COVID, restaurants, hotels, gyms, and entertainment venues have increased hiring. That sector has added 11,100 jobs in February making up for most of the 13,900 nonfarm payroll jobs the state gained.
This growth reflects the state’s lowering numbers of coronavirus cases and subsequent loosening of COVID restrictions that happened in February. Additionally, 20 counties moved from “extreme risk,” meaning bars and restaurants around Portland and Bend could resume indoor dining, as well as theaters and fitness centers reopening.
Meanwhile, the transportation, warehousing, and utilities job sectors as well as the professional and technical services job sectors reached record high employment last month.
Nonfarm payroll employment is still 7.8% lower than its pre-recession peak. Currently, that sector has 1,819,100 jobs.
On a brighter note, preliminary estimates show the unemployment rate for women was lower than that of men.
“The unemployment rate for women in Oregon was 5.6% in February, compared with 6.6% for men,” said Employment Department economist Gail Krumenauer in an interview with KLCC.
The unemployment rate for the state is higher than it was pre-COVID, and the number of people in the labor force has wildly fluctuated throughout the various stages in the pandemic.
In the earlier stages of the pandemic, Oregonian women were leaving the workforce in a national trend. Krumenauer said that the number of women in the state’s labor force declined every month from March to September, but has begun to grow.
Krumenauer cautions that data is limited, but the primary estimate of Oregon’s labor force is larger than it had been pre-COVID.
By: Hannah Ramsey