COVID-19 Employment Crisis in Oregon Continues in May

Posted on June 16, 2020

Oregon Employment Department – 06/16/20 10:00 AM

“Although Oregon experienced job gains due to the limited resumption of economic activity in May, over the past three months of the COVID-19 pandemic job losses have totaled 243,500. Historically, this loss is unprecedented and currently thousands of Oregonians are still suffering the economic realities of being unemployed,” said Anna Johnson, Senior Economic Analyst with the Oregon Employment Department.

Oregon’s unemployment rate declined to 14.2 percent in May from 14.9 percent, as revised, in April. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent in May from 14.7 percent in April. Oregon’s April unemployment rate was the state’s highest since comparable records began in 1976.

Oregon total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 22,500 jobs in May, following a loss of 252,800 jobs in April. Thus, in May, employers added back nearly one in 10 jobs that were cut in April. Over-the-month job gains in May were largest in leisure and hospitality (+15,900 jobs); health care and social assistance (+8,400); construction (+5,600); and retail trade (+3,200). These gains were countered by substantial monthly losses in manufacturing (-4,900 jobs) and government (-9,900).

During May, statewide and county-specific guidelines for reopening businesses fostered increases in customer demand within leisure and hospitality. Full-service restaurants added back 8,500 jobs in May following steep job cuts in the prior two months. This industry employed 29,900 in May, which was still down more than half from its year-ago total of 72,700 jobs. Limited-service eating places, which includes fast-food establishments, saw its employment rebound by 5,400 in May to reach a total of 49,600. That was still nearly a third below its year-ago headcount of 71,700. Accommodation, which includes hotels and motels, added 1,600 jobs in May, but is still below half of its employment level of 26,500 reached in May 2019.

Additionally, some restrictions were lifted on elective and routine medical procedures. Ambulatory health care services responded with a gain of 8,300 jobs. Totaling 86,900 jobs in May, the industry was still 7,300 jobs below its May 2019 total.

On the down side, durable goods manufacturing cut 6,300 jobs in May. Much of these cuts were concentrated in primary metal manufacturing (-1,300 jobs) and in computer and electronic product manufacturing (-2,500 jobs). The portion of government with a big job change in May was local government education, which dealt with pandemic-induced school closures from kindergarten through universities, resulting in job cuts totaling 8,300.

Next Press Releases

The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the May county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, June 23rd, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for June on Tuesday, July 14th.


All numbers in the above narrative are seasonally adjusted, with the exception of the detailed industries’ jobs figures.

The Oregon Employment Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) work cooperatively to develop and publish monthly Oregon payroll employment and labor force data. The estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. The estimates of unemployment are based on a survey of households and other sources.

The reference period for the household and establishment surveys:

The household survey reference period is generally the calendar week (Sunday–Saturday) that contains the 12th of the month, in this case May 10th through May 16th. In the household survey, individuals are classified as employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force based on their answers to a series of questions about their activities during the survey reference week.

In the establishment survey, workers who are paid by their employer for all or any part of the pay period including the 12th of the month are counted as employed, even if they were not actually at their jobs. Workers who are temporarily or permanently absent from their jobs and who are not being paid are not counted as employed, even if they continue to receive benefits. The length of the reference period varies across businesses in the establishment survey. Nationally, one-third of businesses have a weekly pay period, slightly over 40 percent bi-weekly, about 20 percent semi-monthly, and a small amount monthly.

The PDF version of the news release, including tables and graphs, can be found at To obtain the data in other formats such as in Excel, visit, then within the top banner, select Economic Data, then choose LAUS or CES. To request the press release as a Word document, contact the person shown at the top of this press release.

For help finding jobs and training resources, visit one of the state’s WorkSource Oregon centers or go to:

Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

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