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Anna Johnson Says Oregon’s Unemployment Trust Fund Now Has the State’s Largest Payroll

She authored an historically bleak jobs report.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

It's hard to grasp the scale of the economic devastation COVID-19 has levied on Oregon. Here's one way: The state's unemployment trust fund now has the largest payroll in the state.

For all the prominent struggles of the Oregon Employment Department, it has become effectively the largest employer in the state. That's one revelation from Anna Johnson, 28, a senior economic analyst with the department.

This week, Johnson authored a report with shockingly bleak employment figures—the jobs report is the worst since 1976. In about a month, more than 200,000 Oregonians lost their jobs.

"There's really nothing like it in any historical record," she says. "The bottom fell out."

We won't sugarcoat it: Johnson's interview with WW editor and publisher Mark Zusman is good news for people who love bad news. But Johnson has insight into who's losing their jobs and how we compare to the rest of the country. She also can offer a single silver lining.