CANNON BEACH, OR (KPTV) – New numbers from Oregon’s Employment Department indicate the two counties with the highest rates of unemployment per labor force are on the coast.
The economist behind the numbers said it's tied to industry; the counties with large tourism, accommodation and food service industries are seeing some of the highest percentages in initial unemployment insurance claims.
"I am concerned about the businesses and how they’ll be able to reopen and make a living," Anita Dueber who lives in Cannon Beach said. The restaurant she worked at closed in March. "So, I’ve been unemployed and was fortunate enough to be able to collect unemployment benefits."
In looking at new data from Oregon’s Employment Department, she represents the one in three workers in accommodation and food services without a job. That’s the industry with the most unemployment insurance claims processed in the first six weeks of this crisis.
"When you put these industries together it translates really well into what communities are getting hit the hardest," said Oregon Employment Department Economist Damon Runberg.
He said overall Multnomah and Washington counties have the most initial unemployment claims but that doesn’t mean they’re seeing the biggest impact; figuring that out requires some math.
"We’re taking the total number of unemployment claims filed during this crisis as a share of the total labor force and that’s why we’re seeing these really big numbers in places like Lincoln and Clatsop County on the coast 4:46.
In those two counties, about 17 percent of the labor force filed for unemployment.
And while Runberg said tourism and hospitality will take a long time to recover, there is a silver lining for these coastal communities once things start to reopen.
"We saw this during the great recession as well, these regional tourism destinations recovered much quicker than some of these more expensive flight destinations," he said. "People aren’t going to feel safe going on airplanes or going to big cities. They’ll feel more comfortable going to Lincoln City on the coast or going to Bend in Central Oregon than they will going to New York City.
Runberg also pointed out when it comes to this unemployment data, some of the most vulnerable Oregonians are being impacted most significantly, those with lower levels of pay to begin with, lower levels of education, and a large share of workers in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties.
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