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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.