Unemployment Rates Skyrocket in NW Oregon Due to COVID-19June 8, 2020 Each county in the Northwest Oregon area (Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, and Tillamook counties) has experienced record-high unemployment due to business closures implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Because the coastal counties within the region have a larger share of jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector, they have been impacted even more severely by the business closures. The leisure industry includes accommodations (resorts, hotels, motels, and campgrounds); food services and drinking places; and arts, entertainment, and recreation businesses, many of which were shuttered due to COVID-19.
Lincoln County’s unemployment rate grew by nearly six times since April of last year, from 4.5 percent to 26.2 percent, making it the highest unemployment rate in the state. The estimated number of unemployed surged from 914 in April of 2019 to 5,496 in 2020.
Unemployment in Clatsop County has also jumped since the COVID-19 crisis hit. One year ago, the county had an estimated 723 unemployed residents. The count jumped to an estimated 4,669 in April 2020, causing the unemployment rate to grow by more than six times the rate of last year (from 3.9% to 24.4%) and making the county second highest statewide.
Though impacted slightly less, Tillamook County has also seen a large jump in jobless residents, from an estimated 443 last year at this time to an estimated 2,195 in April, 2020. The county’s unemployment rate was sixth highest statewide, having multiplied by nearly five times that of last year to 18.4 percent in April.
Unemployment in Columbia and Benton counties has grown substantially, though not quite as severely as the coastal areas of the region. Columbia and Benton counties’ unemployment rates have more than tripled year over year. The number of unemployed grew by over 3,500 in Benton County from last April to April 2020. The jobless count in Columbia County has grown from an estimated 1,105 last April to over 3,700 this April, up over 2,600.
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