Oregon Unemployment Jumps From 6% to 6.4% in December After Months of Declines

Multnomah County continues to suffer more than most counties; leisure and restaurant industries were crushed at year’s end.

After seven consecutive monthly declines, Oregon unemployment jumped in December, rising from 6% to 6.4%.

New figures released today by the Oregon Employment Department show that the burden of those job losses fell squarely on the leisure and hospitality industry, which lost 28,600 jobs in a month that is usually a big earner for restaurants. The job loss in that sector exceeded the number of jobs lost in the state as a whole, 25,500, as some sectors, including transportation, retail, health care and professional services showed modest job gains.

Restaurant-heavy Multnomah County continues to experience unemployment above the state average, at 7.2%.

"December's job losses reflect the devastation COVID-19 continues to inflict on the lives and livelihoods of Oregonians," said Gail Krumenauer, state employment economist with OED. "Ten months into the pandemic, Oregon has regained just 37% of the jobs lost in this recession."

Despite today's bad news, unemployment is significantly below the levels it reached during the Great Recession a decade ago, although whether it remains so appears to be a function of pandemic response, which has not been stellar so far.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.